Woman (19) dies after being trapped by falling sand dune

Thu, May 31, 2012, 01:00

A young woman who was trapped after a sand dune on which she and friends were playing collapsed on Tuesday afternoon died yesterday at Kerry General Hospital.

Niamh McCarthy (19), a student at UCC, had been on holiday in the area with friends.

Prayers were said for her last night at a local grotto near the sand dune on the Maharees, part of a seven-mile stretch of sand near Castlegregory.

Ms McCarthy, of Minane Bridge, Cork, had been on the 10m high dunes, for which the area is well known. She and friends were apparently digging a hole in the dune and jumping into it.

It is understood Ms McCarthy was in the hole area when the dune suddenly collapsed.

Her friends raised the alarm, and began digging her out with their hands. Others ran for help to nearby houses.

Locals arrived with shovels, taking turns to dig through up to 8ft of sand.

Ms McCarthy was brought to Kerry General Hospital. Her father Tom, a Cork County Council engineer, her mother Catherine and her three brothers had gathered at her bedside.

A council spokesman issued a warning about the dunes and the soft Kerry coastline. More than half of the county’s 684km of coast is “soft” and subject to erosion and shifting sands.

Cork county mayor Tim Lombard, also from Minane Bridge, offered condolences to Ms McCarthy’s family. He said there was terrible sense of shock in the area.