SIX DONEGAL men behind dramatic near-death incidents have been recognised at the Irish Water Safety’s National Awards Ceremony at City Hall, Dublin.
Minister John Perry presented the “SEIKO Just in Time Rescue Award” to these rescuers in appreciation for saving so many lives.
The Donegal people honoured included Jason McClay (19) from Kinnegoe, Buncrana; Patrick Moss (20) of Rosbeg; John Patton, Hugh-John McGonigle, the late PJ Patton and the late Larry McGonigle, all of Ballyshannon.
“Tragically an average of 140 drownings occur in Ireland every year,” commented Minister Perry, “and although that’s 140 too many, the figure would be even higher but for the dramatic efforts of these individuals who saved others from drowning and the ongoing work of volunteers teaching swimming and rescue skills.
“Last year, the 128 drownings in Ireland were lower than the annual average, reason enough to be confident that the work of Irish Water Safety Volunteers and partners in the public and private sector is having the desired outcome – more people enjoying our wonderful aquatic facilities more safely. That said complacency is not an option”, he added.
THE DONEGAL SEIKO JUST IN TIME AWARD RECIPIENTS:
Mr Jason McClay
Around midnight, on the 2nd June 2012, a car had left the road, careered fifty yards through a field and went off a steep drop into the Crana river near Buncranna. Nineteen year old Jason McClay from Kinnego, had been at a friend’s house when he heard the screeching of tyres followed by a loud bang. He left the house and ran down through a field and saw that a car was submerged in the water. Without hesitation, Jason jumped off the 40 ft Ravine. Upon entering the water he noticed a girl who had managed to escape out of the car. Jason swam in through the car window. Visibility was poor as it was very dark and he could not see anyone else in the car. On leaving the car, he noticed a boy and dragged him over to the bank. He then went back and got another boy out and dragged him to safety. There were four passengers in total, all teenagers. Only two were swimmers. Emergency services arrived to the scene. Due to the quick thinking and selfless courage of Jason’s actions, four lives were saved, a story which Donegal Daily first revealed at the time.
Mr Patrick Moss
On the afternoon of the 27th of December 2011, twenty year old Patrick Moss was taking a walk along the Rosbeg pier when he saw a car enter the water. He assessed the situation and ran to the shore where he entered the water and swam out towards the car which was sinking. He grabbed onto the driver of the car and took her to safety. He placed her into the recovery position until the emergency services arrived.
Mr PJ Patton (posthumous award), Mr Larry McGonigle (posthumous award), Mr John Patton, Mr Hugh-John McGonigle
In June of 1955, two men from Ballyshannon set out to bring up their fishing punt, which they had anchored the previous evening. One of the men, Mr McCusker, waded out to it, but he suddenly found himself out of his depth. He tried to swim against the strong current but he could not, his friend tried to reach him but it was too dangerous.
Mr McCusker found himself sucked down by the swirling water yet he continued swimming until he broke the surface. He tried to swim towards the “Black Rock” but was taken by the current again. He spotted an old boat wreck and he managed to grasp it and pull himself up. It was extremely cold. He saw men in the distance and waved. He could feel his feet go numb and he knew he had to try to get his circulation back. Four young men, John Patton now age 78, Larry McGonigle R.I.P., Hugh John McGonigle age 78 and P.J. Patton R.I.P., went to the rescue of Mr McCusker. Upon assessing the situation they got a boat and went out into the channel where the water was bubbling up around them. They dropped an anchor and then let the boat out on a rope trying to get close to the wreck. It took them four attempts before they managed to reach Mr McCusker and eventually managed to get him into the boat. The rescue took over one hour.