A FAMILY holiday would have turned to tragedy only for an off-duty lifeguard walking his dog.
Julie Peters, from Castletroy, was visiting the Quilty area in Co Clare for a few days with her three children last week. On Wednesday, they headed for Seafield pier.
"My daughter Leah, aged 7, slipped into the water and unable to reach the bottom, she started to panic fast.
"My worst nightmare was unfolding in front of my very eyes as my daughter struggled for what seemed like forever," wrote Julie in an emotional Facebook post.
A young man out walking his dog on the pier heard her screams for help.
"Without hesitation, he came running towards me and entered the water immediately even with his iPhone and car keys still in his pocket. It all happened so fast.
"He reached Leah and brought her back to safety. She cried and clinged to him for dear life as he lifted her from the water and back on to dry land.
"I will never forget the fright to see my 7-year-old daughter so helpless and scared. It could have been a different outcome had this man not been there to help Leah," wrote Julie.
She shared her story on Facebook to publicly thank him.
"Patrick Mungovan - the name of a true hero. To Patrick I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart for rescuing my baby girl. I can't even describe how grateful and thankful we are," Julie told the Limerick Leader.
Leah was examined by a doctor who said she was "very lucky". Patrick has modestly played down his heroism, simply saying on Facebook: "Thank you for all the lovely messages! Lucky to be at the right place at the right time."
Julie will replace the lifeguard's iPhone as "it is the least I can do".
"It is thanks to your bravery and life saving skills that I still have my daughter alive with me tonight," wrote Julie, who also warns other parents on holidays before school resumes how quick this can happen.
"To parents out there, keep both your eyes on your kids at all times. Even a split second can mean the difference between life and death," wrote Julie.
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