Two teenagers are being hailed as heroines after saving two girls who were swept out from Buncrana’s shorefront beach last week.
Fifteen-year-old Zara Reid from Drumahoe and 17-year-old Becca Ebbs from Galliagh jumped into the water at Lady’s Bay without hesitation after hearing screams for help.
Stephanie Doran and Amber Sweeney, both 17 years old and from Derry city, got into difficulty after the current swept them away from the shoreline last Wednesday afternoon.
“I looked out when I heard screaming but couldn’t see anything, but then I saw one girls head come above the water. I ran over to Becca and said those girls are in trouble and that’s when we ran into the water,” said Zara.
“We were in the water for two or three minutes before we managed to get them out,” said Becca.
She said the stricken girls were really scared when they reached them.
“The current is very strong down there and I wouldn’t go down and swim if you’re not a good swimmer when the tide is coming in,” said Becca.
Zara added: “It’s important to always be aware of your surroundings and the potential dangers that come with being near water. We were lucky that we were able to help Stephanie and Amber, but it could have ended much differently if we weren’t prepared.”
Both Becca and Zara emphasized the importance of knowing how to swim and being cautious around water, especially in areas with strong currents.
Joe Joyce, crew member and communications officer with Lough Swilly RNLI, said the lifeboat was called out to the incident but stood down after the girls were helped back to shore.
He warned people to be careful in the water, especially with the good weather drawing large numbers of people to the beaches.
“You should only swim in areas you’re familiar with and always seek advice from locals if you’re not sure,” he said.
“I know it’s very tempting to get into the water when the sun is out, but you should only swim where you see other people swimming.
“Just be aware of your surroundings.”
Lisa Doran, mother of Stephanie, said she was alerted to the frightening situation when she was at work.
“Stephanie and Amber are both shaken up but are doing ok after being taken by ambulance to Letterkenny hospital.”
“They both took on a lot of water but we’ve been told there is no water on their lungs. It’s the scare at the minute more then anything.”
“Overall I think they were in the water for 15 or 20 minutes. It was terrifying getting that call at my workplace.”
“Stephanie is really shook up, apparently she was blue around the mouth when they took her out.”
Lisa asks that young people people be vigilant around water.
“To an adult we could see a current but not a child so much. They just wanted to go and play.
“The water was there one minute, the sand under them was there, then it was gone within a matter of seconds.”
“Every time they got pulled down they got pushed out further and further out. For anybody who is in the water but isn’t a great swimmer, they should be very careful as it can change within seconds and it’s just too late.”
Both families are grateful for everyone who helped.
Lisa is especially thankful to Zara and Becca who pulled the two girls out.
“The paramedics were absolutely amazing and everybody who was on the scene to help.”
“There were numerous calls made to the emergency services. They wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for everybody who was there. The two wee girls are absolute heroes,” Lisa said.