Pockets of air in coat kept girl afloat after she was swept out to sea

RNLI lifeboat volunteers reached the girl who was swept out to sea from the east pier of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in Co Dublin.

(Steve Parsons/PA)

A lifeboat volunteer who jumped into the sea to save a young girl has revealed that pockets of air trapped under her coat helped keep her afloat before the rescue.

Andrew Sykes was on board the RNLI lifeboat that reached the girl and pulled her out of the water within eight and half minutes of receiving the emergency call on Saturday evening.

The operation was mounted after the girl was swept out to sea from the east pier of Dun Laoghaire Harbour in Co Dublin at around 8.20pm.

The incident came amid rough seas as Storm Kathleen hit Ireland.

Mr Skyes, a volunteer helm with the RNLI, said the stormy conditions made the rescue operation difficult.

“With the high winds and storm we were experiencing, with large waves and surge coming off the pier, to get alongside her was extremely difficult. She would be pushed one way and we would be pushed another,” he told the PA news agency.

After two attempts to reach the girl from within the boat, Mr Skyes entered the water to grab hold of her and help her onboard.

He said she was calm and alert and was lying on her back in the water with her arms out wide.

Mr Skyes said the air trapped in her coat was crucial.

“She had a jacket on and capsules of air had become trapped in it – those kept her afloat,” he said.

Ed Totterdell, lifeboat operations manager at Dun Laoghaire Lifeboat Station, praised the skills of the crew members involved in the rescue.

“It showed the talent of the crew on board that they were able to do it, they were ready for it,” he said.

After being pulled from the water, the girl was taken to hospital for treatment for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Coast Guard, RNLI, Garda, ambulance service and Dublin fire brigade were all involved in the operation.

The Coast Guard’s Rescue 116 helicopter was also deployed.

Dun Laoghaire Fine Gael TD Jennifer Carroll MacNeill praised the “extraordinary efforts” of the rescuers.

Fianna Fail TD Cormac Devlin described the rescuers as “heroic”.

“Thank you and I hope that the young girl is recovering well,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.

In a statement on Sunday, the Garda said: “Gardai assisted emergency services in the rescue of a female child who had gone into the water at Dun Laoghaire harbour yesterday evening.

“The child was rescued from the water by emergency services and taken to hospital in south Dublin to be treated for non-life-threatening injuries.”

Around 34,000 customers lost electricity supply on Saturday as Storm Kathleen swept across the island, with orange wind warnings in effect in southern and western parts.

A few thousand customers remained without power overnight but by Sunday afternoon almost all had had their supply restored.

A yellow wind warning covering Donegal, Mayo and west Galway was lifted at 4pm on Sunday.