Teenage hero braves River Foyle to rescue drowning man

Odhran McKane is a member of the Irish national elite triathlon panel.
Seamus McKinney

A TEENAGE triathlete has been hailed a hero after he braved Derry's treacherous River Foyle to rescue a man he saw going into the water.

Odhran McKane (19) ignored the strong currents and dived into the river on Thursday evening to rescue the man before performing CPR on him until emergency services arrived.

The rescued man was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital where he remains in a critical condition.

Foyle Search and Rescue, whose volunteers patrol the banks of the Foyle as well taking part in rescue and recovery operations, paid tribute to Odhran for putting others before himself.

Their team was en route to the emergency when they heard that someone had jumped in to help rescue the man who entered the water.

“Special recognition to the person who entered the water and those who administered by stander CPR on shore prior to the arrive of the emergency services," the organisation said.

Odhran, who is one of Ireland’s leading elite triathletes, had been running along the Foyle when he saw the man go in near the city centre.

Eyewitnesses told how he at first tried to rescue the man by throwing lifebelts to him. However, when this failed he dived into the Foyle swam towards the drowning man.

After bringing him ashore he performed CPR and remained with him until the ambulance and Foyle Search and Rescue arrived.

Odhran was unavailable for comment yesterday as, sadly a short time after his brave rescue, his family suffered a bereavement when his grandmother, Anne Mc Kane (78) passed away.

A member of Irish national elite triathlon panel, the teenager was also a former member of the Derry county GAA underage development panel and played for the city’s Sean Dolans and later Steelstown Brian Ógs GAA clubs.

His father Joe Mc Kane said he was “so proud” of his son.

Mr McKane said the family were undergoing a range of emotions from pride at their son’s courage to dealing with the death of his own mother.

Tributes were also paid to Odhran on social media.

In a Facebook post, one friend said: “Odhran just brilliant. You are one special man.”

Another said: "Very brave act by a young man with very admirable character.”

The Foyle Search and Rescue, who dealt with 60 incidents during the month of July alone, said 11 people had been rescued from the river and a further 22 were brought back from railings along the Foyle. One man also died after going into the water in early July.

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