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Gardai investigating boat accident which left girl, 12, seriously injured

Gardai are investigating the circumstances in which a 12-year old girl was seriously injured when she became trapped under a rowing boat after it capsized on the River Shannon, Saturday.

The incident occurred at the Thomond Salmon Weir, Limerick, around 10am, shortly after the row boat, carrying four girls, had set off from a local boat club.

It is understood a support boat was travelling alongside the rowing craft when it overturned in fast flowing water, however it was still not clear whether or not the four girls were equipped with life jackets.

The girl’s family have been keeping a vigil at her side in Temple Street Children’s Hospital, after she was transferred there Saturday evening, having initially been treated at University Hospital Limerick.

Organisers of the weekend rowing outing on the river did not return requests for comment.

Limerick Superintendent Derek Smart said the investigation was ongoing and that he had also referred the matter to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board.

It’s expected the MCIB, who investigate matters involving casualties on Irish waters, will begin looking into why the incident occurred from Monday.

The injured girl became trapped beneath the row boat after her hair was entangled in the outriggers which hold the oars in place on the boat.

Firefighters attached to Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service, who happened to be carrying out a routine patrol of the river at the time, came across the overturned boat, while simultaneously receiving a Coast Guard alert about the incident.

Firefighters cut the girl free from underneath the boat and performed emergency first aid on their boat en route to a nearby slipway where the girl was met by paramedics who helped stabilise her.

The girl remains in a “critical condition”, reliable sources said.

The row boat, which is believed to have been badly damaged during the incident, and which will be examined by investigators, was removed from the water at low tide around 9.30pm Saturday night.

Eye-witness Danny Ryan said he will be “forever haunted” by hearing friends of the girl “screaming” for him to help them after their boat capsized.

“I could see the boat turned over and a girl waving and screaming. My stomach is sick over it. It was scary,” Mr Ryan said.

“I’m haunted all day. It’s the screams. I can still hear the girls screaming, ‘help, help help’”.

Mr Ryan said the current in the river at the time was “going very fast”.