Gardaí investigate how girl became trapped under boat in Limerick

Twelve-year-old remains in critical condition after rowing boat overturns in river Shannon

The Athlunkard Boat Club’s rowing boat which capsized on the river Shannon  on Saturday is lodged against a former salmon weir in Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

The Athlunkard Boat Club’s rowing boat which capsized on the river Shannon on Saturday is lodged against a former salmon weir in Limerick. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

 

Gardaí are investigating the circumstances in which a 12-year-old girl was seriously injured when she became trapped under a rowing boat after it capsized on the river Shannon, on Saturday.

The incident occurred at the Thomond Salmon Weir, Limerick, at about 10am, shortly after the row boat, carrying four girls, had set off from a local boat club.

It is understood a support boat was travelling alongside the rowing craft when it overturned in fast flowing water, however it is not clear if the four girls were wearing lifejackets.

The girl’s family have been keeping a vigil at her side in Temple Street children’s hospital, after she was transferred there on Saturday evening, having initially been treated at University Hospital Limerick.

Organisers of the weekend rowing outing on the river did not return requests for comment.

Limerick Supt Derek Smart said the investigation was ongoing and that he had also referred the matter to the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB).

It is expected the MCIB, which investigates matters involving casualties on Irish waters, will begin looking into why the incident occurred from Monday.

It is thought the injured girl became trapped beneath the boat after her hair was entangled in the outriggers which hold the oars in place on the boat.

Firefighters attached to Limerick City Fire and Rescue Service, who happened to be carrying out a routine patrol of the river at the time, came across the overturned boat, while simultaneously receiving a Coast Guard alert about the incident.

Firefighters cut the girl free from underneath the boat and performed emergency first aid on their boat en route to a nearby slipway where the girl was met by paramedics who helped stabilise her.

The girl remains in a “critical condition”, reliable sources said.

The row boat, which is believed to have been badly damaged during the incident, and which will be examined by investigators, was removed from the water at low tide at about 9.30pm Saturday night.

Eye-witness Danny Ryan (49) of Thomondgate, said he would be “forever haunted” by hearing friends of the girl “screaming” for him to help them after their boat capsized.

“I could see the boat turned over and a girl waving and screaming. My stomach is sick over it. It was scary,” Mr Ryan said.

“I’m haunted all day. It’s the screams. I can still hear the girls screaming, ‘help, help help’”. Mr Ryan said the current in the river at the time was “going very fast”.