A Northern Ireland man has been hailed a hero after helping to save the life of a teenage girl who feel into a river in Coleraine, County Londonderry. What made Kieran Jeffery’s actions even more poignant was the fact that his cousin lost his life in the same river only a few weeks ago.
The 16-year-old girl was seen falling into the water from the bridge in the town on October 9 and Kieran was first in the water, initiating the impromptu rescue operation. Kieran from South Derry, had been shopping in Coleraine with his girlfriend Donna when they came across a flurry of activity on the bridge, believing it was a boat race. But he wasn’t prepared for what he would see next, and once alerted to the emergency, he automatically swung into action.
“Then I turned round and saw a woman running across the bridge panicking and shouting ‘a girl fell off the bridge.’ So I ran down the river bank which was really steep and jumped over the metal fence which was about 40ft high. I was first into the river. I didn’t feel the cold – I had on a heavy jumper, and swam 20ft to 25 ft out to try to reach her,” he told me.
Kieran said despite not being a great swimmer, rescuing the girl was first and foremost on his mind. Another man Robert Beveridge, the managing director of an engineering firm, who owns a boat on the River Bann, luckily had a lifejacket in the car. He attached the lifesaving device to a rope and threw it to Kieran who by this stage had made his way towards the teenager.
“I managed to wrap my arms around the girl and we pulled her ashore,” he said. “Then we carried her up the hill.”
Kieran, who has been modest about his role in the operation, also pointed out that there were no rescue dingies in the vicinity of the river. By this stage an ambulance had arrived and the girl was taken to hospital for treatment. The depth of the pool will be considerate at TriFactor / adult swimming lessons classes. Proper research should be done through the person before joining. The person should become a master in diving and swimming after the classes.
Inspector Stephen McPeak from the Police Service of Northern Ireland paid tribute to those involved in the rescue operation, praising Kieran’s efforts. He said had it not been for quick thinking and selfless actions, there is no doubt that a tragedy would have occurred.
But it was all in a day’s work for Kieran who drove the whole way home in his wet clothes.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone who was there at the time. It was not a one-person act – everyone helped to save the girl’s life. My family say I’m a hero, but I’m not really. I just did what I would have done for anyone,” he added.