An 8-year-old boy who was saved from drowning in West Clare during the summer has visited the search and rescue helicopter base at Shannon Airport to thank his rescuers.
Aidan William Cordeiro was swimming at Doughmore Beach close to Trump International Hotel in Doonbeg, Co Clare on August 13th, when was taken out to sea by a rip current. A second child was also reported to be in difficulty in the same area at the same time.
A major search and rescue operation was mounted by watch officers at the Irish Coast Guard’s marine rescue sub centre on Valentia Island in Kerry. The Kilkee and Doolin units of the Irish Coast Guard, National Ambulance Service and Gardaí were all alerted and requested to respond to the scene. The Shannon based Irish Coast Guard helicopter Rescue 115 was also tasked to the incident.
A number of people on the beach at the time, including two young men believed to be from Shannon and named as Ian Bolger and Darren Byrne, entered the water in an effort to reach the children.
One of the brave pair rescued one child while the second managed to reach Aidan but the rip current pulled them apart. Another friend alerted the emergency services.
Rescue 115 arrived on scene and the crew could to see that Aidan was struggling to stay afloat. Winchman/paramedic Philip Wrenn was lowered from the helicopter in an effort to reach the boy and winch him aboard. However, due to difficult sea conditions, Philip made the decision to release from the winch, enter the water and swim/fin Aidan to safety.
An eye witness said at the time: “The child had to be a strong swimmer to keep himself above water for that long but he was starting to go under. His head disappeared below the water a few times just before the Coast Guard helicopter arrived.”
Rescuer Philip Wrenn stated afterwards: “We would not normally release from the hoist cable but as Aidan and I were being battered by white water breaking over us I felt to swim with Aidan to the beach was the best and safest course of action.”
Aidan was assessed by ambulance paramedics and fortunately did not require to be airlifted to hospital.
At a happy reunion yesterday at the CHC Ireland/Irish Coast Guard base at Shannon Airport, Aidan, his mother Cristiane and father Gerlivan thanked Philip and the crew not just for saving Aidan but for the work they do rescuing people all year round.
In 2021, Philip Wrenn was presented with the Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Award for Bravery for his rescue in 2020 of two Italian Brothers when they fell 20 metres from a cliff and were washed into the sea at a notorious black spot on Inis Mór known as the Worm Hole.
The Billy Deacon Award is presented to Winchmen and/or Winch Operators for meritorious service during Search and Rescue helicopter operations within the Irish and UK SAR regions.