The father and son who were rescued clinging to a mooring off the coast of Cork on Sunday were lucky to escape with their lives, according to a member of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in Cork.
The alarm shortly before 7.30pm on Sunday evening after a father and his nine-year-old son got into difficulty in the water at Fountainstown.
It is understood the nine-year-old child had an inflatable device which was swept out to sea in strong currents. His father rushed to help him but also got into difficulties.
An onlooker called emergency services and Crosshaven Coastguard, Crosshaven RNLI and the Rescue 117 helicopter were tasked to the scene.
However, it was Paddy Quinlan, a member of the Crosshaven RNLI and managing director of Funkytown Adventure Centre, who arrived at the scene first.
After receiving a call about the incident, Paddy got on his bike with a paddle in hand and cycled the three minute journey to the shore.
Speaking to The Echo, Paddy said:
“One of the locals who was down there rang me.
“They said the boy and his dad were hanging on to a mooring out there and that the tide was coming in,” he added.
“I had a canoe down there so I jumped onto my bike with a paddle in-hand and flew down.
“I’d say there were flame marks going down the road from the bike,” he laughed.
“Local gardaí were waiting at the water's edge with the canoe ready so I jumped in straight away and went out.
“I got out there and pulled the young boy in first and brought him back to shore.” When Paddy went back out to rescue the boy’s father, he realised he was too heavy to put in the canoe alongside himself.
Teenagers on a nearby RIB came to the assistance of the father.
“There were a few young people from the yacht club in the RIB and they came over and we got the father into the boat and back to shore," he said. “The helicopter came and brought them to hospital then."
Paddy revealed that he has heard the boy has made a full recovery following the incident.
“I’d say they’re quite shook by the incident,” he said. “They were very lucky though, there’s a phenomenal danger there when the tide is coming in like that.
“It was close now, the dad hadn’t much strength left by the time I got to them.”
Paddy said this is just the latest in a string of dangerous incidents involving the use of inflatables at sea.
“This needs to be addressed at a high level, it’s getting out of hand now,” he said. “Anyone can get them in any shop where they could spend €50 to put their lives at risk.”
Both Paddy and the youngsters on board the RIB have been praised for their decisive action in Sunday’s rescue.
“The RIB which responded was crewed by five 16 year olds who were fishing in White Bay when they heard the PAN PAN call and responded immediately to the incident," RNLI Crosshaven said in a Facebook post.
“Coincidentally, three of the RIB crew have RNLI connections.
“Jamie Venner is the son of Ian Venner who was also the Helm on tonight's service, Cillian Foster is a brother to Caomhe Foster who is also Crosshaven RNLI crew and Richard McSweeney is the son of former Baltimore RNLI crew member Ciaran McSweeney,” the post added.
“The other crew on board were Kate Horgan and Harry Pritchard.
"Crosshaven RNLI commends the five youngsters for acting so professionally and swiftly in rescuing the casualty in need. Our future is safe in their hands."
The Crosshaven RNLI crew on duty for the incident were Helm Ian Venner with Aoife Dinan, Susanne Deane and Jon Bermingham. Launch crew was Gary Heslin and Richie Leonard.