A GARDA who was involved in a dramatic river rescue in Limerick city earlier this month says he would be honoured if he is nominated for a National Bravery Award.
Garda James O’Connor, who is attached to Mayorstone garda station, was on duty in the early hours of January 12 when gardai were alerted to a woman who had gone missing from her home on the north side of city.
In the pitch darkness, gardai began searching the banks of the river Shannon in the Thomondgate area and the 28-year-old, who is originally from Clarecastle, entered the freezing waters when they located the woman.
“We heard a kind of groan and we heard a noise out a bit in the reeds so we ran over, we could just make out the lady in question,” Garda O’Connor told the Limerick Leader adding that because of her location, the gardai were not able to throw her a life buoy.
“She was kind of floating on her back holding onto a branch or something so we couldn’t actually get the life buoy out to her,” he said
Without hesitation, Garda O’Connor then waded into the water and through the reeds until he reached the woman.
Despite being 6’2” in height, at the one point the brave garda was in water so deep, it was over his shoulders.
“When I stepped out, it wasn’t that deep and it was okay going in. The water was between my knees and my waist but where she was there was a sharp drop but because I am 6’2” I was okay and I was able to step back up onto the ridge and drag her back,” he said.
Garda O’Connor, who has been attached to Mayorstone garda station since 2010, revealed that it wasn’t until he had brought the woman ashore he realised his phone was in his pocket.
“I didn’t even think about it and when I came out, I was wet and I just realised then that I had my phone in my pocket but luckily it’s still working it’s okay. I didn’t think too much (before entering the water) but looking back on it maybe I should have taken off the (stab) vest and stuff in case I got into trouble,” he said adding that following the rescue he showered and changed his uniform before returning to duty.
The head of the Limerick garda division, Chief Superintendent David Sheahan has praised the action of Garda O’Connor and his colleagues - Garda Gillian Kirwan, Garda Ciaran McCarthy and Garda Paul Baynham - who all provided assistance.
“I would like to certainly commend the bravery that was displayed by Garda James O’Connor on the morning in question as he waded his way into the reeds in the water to effect this rescue,” he said adding that he has no doubt Garda O’Connor’s name will be put forward for a Bravery Award
“It would be great, it’s a great honour but at the end of the day there were three of us there and I wouldn’t have gone in if I didn’t have somebody there,” said Garda O’Connor.