A WOMAN said she nearly drowned after falling into a seven foot hole along the riverbank in the north side of the University of Limerick campus recently - only to be saved by her huskey dog.
Mother of three Mairead Guerin went for her usual evening walk along the bank near the Black Bridge, which has been closed off due to floods last year and situated on the Clare side of the UL campus.
But as she was walking along with her son’s dog, Oden, the side of the bank fell away beneath her and she fell into an exposed drain, believed to measure in excess of seven feet.
“I knew the drain was there, but it was never as big as it is now. I nearly drowned. I couldn’t get back up out of the drain. I was completely under the water and couldn’t get my balance.
“I couldn’t get out only that I have a huskey, and he’s a pulling dog and I was able to grab onto him to pull me out,” said Ms Guerin.
Due to the bad weather she wore wellingtons that evening for her walk, but they filled up with water when she fell into the drain and threatened to drag her down.
After arriving home, she called security at the university who sealed the area off with temporary barriers, but she said they informed her they are not responsible for that particular stretch of area.
She also contacted both Limerick County Council and Clare County Council - who also denied ownership and responsibility.
“It’s very serious. I said to the council it would have been better off if I drowned because then you’d have to do something about it. You have to be killed for something to be taken serious,” said Ms Guerin, who has lived near the Lame Duck pub for 25 years.
The Parteen native filled in an accident report form at the university, but was informed that the college only owns the land up as far as the drain.
The drain normally measures one foot deep, but due to ongoing construction works in the area it appears to have been dug out for drainage works.
Her son put his kayaking oar into the hole and it measures 6 foot 8 inches along the embankment side, but could be deeper in the centre.
Ms Guerin has heard unconfirmed reports from other walkers that another jogger fell in one evening.
Pat Henchy, an executive engineer with the roads department with the Scarriff office of Clare County Council, said he has not viewed the site but is “quite satisfied” from the description of the area is not owned by the local authority.
A UL spokesperson said “in the interest of public safety the University of Limerick has erected a barrier at this area on the riverbank in order to avoid a reoccurrence of this unfortunate incident.”
Limerick County Council could not be contacted at the time of going to print.