A distraught mother has appealed for safety barriers to be placed along the entire pier area in Donegal town after her 17-year-old son fell into the harbour on Sunday night last.
Thanks to truly remarkable good fortune the teenager - who lay unconscious for up to four hours in the harbour after he fell approximately eight feet - emerged unscathed from his ordeal and was taken to safety at 6am by emergency service personnel, suffering only from mild hypothermia.
The Ballyshannon mum told the Donegal Democrat how her 17-year-old son had been drinking on Sunday night last and having failed to gain access to several premises in Donegal town wandered towards the pier, falling eight feet into the water which was at low-tide
“He was so lucky - we know we have won the lotto of life - and when his friends the emergency services found him at 6am he was unconscious and was lying in the water. If the tide had been in he would have drowned. There is no doubt about that. We know we are blessed. We are so relieved that he is safe.
“This is every parent’s nightmare when their son or daughter goes out at night.”
She added: “He was suffering from the early stages of hypothermia when we found him. It was a frantic search and when we saw him half submerged in the seaweed we feared for the worst, but we have been given this chance.
“Obviously we will deal with the issue of his drinking and he knows how lucky he has been - he’s only 17 - and what he did was so dangerous for himself. But there is a wider issue here too and having been so lucky that our son did not drown, I now want to make this public appeal to the local authorities to erect safety barriers along the entire pier at Donegal town.”
The relieved mum added: “There are literally thousands of young people going to Donegal town every weekend for entertainment and like my son, some of them are going to drink too much. The problem is that some of the entertainment places are fairly close to the pier and it’s inevitable that young lads or girls will wander down to the pier in various states of sobriety.
“If there were barriers there it might have saved my son from falling in. I’m hoping that people will think about what I’m saying and get these barriers in place before we have a tragedy.”
Her partner told the Democrat: “His friends were so clued-in, they noticed him missing and got in touch with us. What they did was crucial in terms of letting us know. The gardai were also very helpful and when he was found we were so frightened and so relieved. We have been given a second chance here. He was to his waist in water and the seaweed was half covering him, his clothes were soaked through. To be perfectly honest we thought the worst.
“But now, three days afterwards we are just trying, in some way, to turn our great luck in not having a tragedy on our hands, to some good. I don’t know what more we can do, but hopefully the council or perhaps the property owners in the area might combine forces to erect safety barriers that could save someone’s life.
“We were lucky, but there has been tragedy here before and the next 17-year-old who has too much to drink and falls over the pier may not be so lucky,” the boys’ mum added.
She said she wished to thank the Gardai and the emergency services for their fantastic help on the night and she added particular thanks to her son’s friends who showed great maturity in raising the alarm - and in her view - saving her son.