A CORK teenager who, along with friends, took part in the rescue of two people on the Cork coast on Sunday has said it was a case of “right place, right time”.
A father and his nine-year-old son were left clinging to a mooring off the coast of Cork on Sunday, after an inflatable device swept the child out to sea and his father attempted to rescue him.
The alarm shortly before 7.30pm on Sunday evening after the two got into difficulty in the water at Fountainstown.
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.
He was joined shortly after by a crew of teenagers on a RIB boat.
Paddy rescued the child and the teenagers managed to pull the father onto their boat and drop him safely back to shore.
Cillian Foster was among the crew of 16-year-olds on board the RIB. His sister Caoimhe is a member of Crosshaven RNLI who responded to the distress signal.
Speaking to The Echo, Cillian said: “We were on my friends’ Rib and we were going to go fishing when we heard a distress signal go off on the radio.
“We were by White Bay Beach and the emergency was nearby in Fountainstown so we went there straight away to see if we could help.
“We saw there were two people in the water, a father and a son,” he added.
“By the time we got closer, the son had been rescued but the father was struggling to get out because of the tide.
“We managed to get him onto the boat and we dropped him back to shore.
Cillian said he has never been involved in a rescue scenario before.
“It was just a case of right place, right time,” he added.
“My parents and family were a bit shocked about it.”
As an experienced group of young sailors, Cillian said there was no fear or panic among the crew during the rescue.
“In the moment, you just have to do what you have to do. At that moment, there was no messing and we just did it,” he said.
“It didn’t seem like a big heroic thing in the moment, it was just something we had to do.”
Cillian revealed that he had hoped to follow in his sister’s footsteps and get involved with the local RNLI but the Covid-19 pandemic scuppered his plans.
“I’m definitely thinking about it again now,” he said.
Paddy Quinlan said the father and son who were rescued made a “lucky escape”.
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.
Paddy spotted a nearby Rib boat which was being operated by some younger members of the local yacht club.
“I signalled the Rib to come over,” he explained.
“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.
“The helicopter came and brought them to hospital then,” he added.
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,” he added.
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.