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Passer-by praised for saving couple in Co Donegal river rescue

A woman, aged in her 60s, was taken to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry by the coastguard helicopter after the dramatic rescue. Picture by NIFRS/ Facebook

A PASSER-BY has been praised for jumping into a river in Co Donegal to save a couple whose car had careered into the water.

The man entered the Swilly Burn River in Lifford as the vehicle began to fill with water on Saturday evening.

The couple, who have been named locally as Philip and Loreta McKinlay from Rosgier in Lifford, had been driving near Porthall when their car left the road and crashed into the water.

It has been reported Mr McKinlay was able to free himself from the vehicle and climb onto of the sinking car as he began shouting for help for his wife who was trapped inside.

As a number of people arrived on the scene, one man jumped in and swam to the car and managed to free the woman before fire crews from both sides of the border arrived to help with the rescue.

It is understood another onlooker managed to get a water hose which was passed to the rescuer to help get the couple ashore.

The woman, aged in her sixties, was taken to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry by the Irish coastguard helicopter, while her husband was taken by ambulance.

Emergency services from both sides of the border were involved in the rescue operation. Picture by NIFRS/ Facebook

She was later transferred to Letterkenny University Hospital in Co Donegal, where she remains in a serious condition.

The couple's pet dog was also in the car but managed to get out and fled the scene. He was found a short time later.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service last night praised the passer-by, who is reported to be from the north, for his heroic efforts.

A woman, aged in her 60s, was taken to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Derry by the coastguard helicopter after the dramatic rescue. Picture by NIFRS/ Facebook

In a post on Facebook, it said: "A special mention to the brave gentleman who entered the water and helped free both casualties before the emergency services arrived".

The couple's car was removed from the river for examination on Sunday and gardai are still trying to determine the cause of the crash.

Inspector Michael Harrison said: "We are still keeping an open mind on the cause of the crash.

"We are appealing to anyone who may have been in the area and witnessed the car leaving the road to get in touch."

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