Northern Ireland news

Italian brothers rescued from sea during Ireland trip return to thank those who saved them

Italian brothers Riccardo and Giovanni Zanon were brought to safety with the help of Rescue 115 when they were hit by a huge wave and fell into the water at Inishmore in February 2019

Italian brothers who were rescued from the sea during a trip to Ireland in 2019 have made a return visit to thank those who saved them.

Riccardo and Giovanni Zanon were visiting the Aran Islands when they were hit by a huge wave and knocked into the water at Pol na bPheist on Inishmore in February 2019.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland today, Mr Zanon said he thought he would die after he fell 20 metres when the wave knocked him off the cliff.

"I just remember a big, huge wave like a grey wall coming towards me and then it was completely dark and I thought I was going to die," he said.

The Italian, who fractured his tibia and pelvis, said he was dragged around by the waves before seeing the rescue helicopter.

"If I had to wait there [longer] I could have bled to death, but the water was so cold, it almost stopped the bleeding," he said.

"I got injured but we made it, it wasn't that easy".

Mr Zanon spent a month at University Hospital Galway and a further week at Tallaght University Hospital before he could return home to Italy.

The brothers were saved by Rescue 115 with the help of winchman Philip Wrenn.

Mr Wrenn said: "As a winchman, when you're on the deck of a boat or a cliff edge or mountain you have to think on the hoof and make split-second decisions and that comes from experience."

Mr Wrenn was later recognised for his bravery that day and received the Bill Deacon Award.

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