The mother of a Derry toddler who “almost drowned” after falling into a water-filled trench on a Galliagh housing estate has praised the eight year old schoolgirl who “saved his life.”
Ciara Moore’s three-and-a-half year old son, Taylor, was outside his grandmother’s home at Elaghmore Park on Sunday evening when the terrifying incident happened.
“We’re not sure exactly what happened but Emma [Campbell], the wee girl who saved Taylor, said he was completely submerged and all she could see was his fingers sticking out of the water.
“I have no idea how she did it but she managed to pull him out. She probably saved his life. She’s a real hero. I can’t thank her enough. But for her, my wee boy could have drowned.”
Ciara says the trench - excavated as part of gas pipeline laying work in the area - filled with water as a result of Saturday’s torrential downpours in Derry.
“As far as I’m aware, there had been barriers around the hole - but nothing covering it,” says Ciara. “What more of an invitation does a child need?”
A spokesperson for firmus energy - which is carrying out work in the area - says the trench had been appropriately secured on Friday afternoon but was vandalised over the weekend leaving the trench without sufficient protective barriers.
“This was an act of mindless vandalism which could have had very serious consequences,” said the spokesperson.
Ciara Moore says her young son was outside her mum’s house waiting for a food delivery just before the accident occurred.
“When anyone is due to arrive at the house, Taylor likes to stand in the garden waiting for them. I was just yards away in the house, tending to my other child who is just nine months old. It was then that he must have made his way over to where the trench is.
“The first I knew of it was when someone told me to come quick. I ran outside to find him standing in the street, soaked to the skin, and in hysterics.
“The wee girl who pulled him out said he was totally under the water and that all she could see were his fingers sticking out of the water. Rather than looking for an adult, as most chidren would do, she had the savvy to run and rescue Taylor. God knows what would have happened if she hadn’t. A child of eight with that sense is, in my eyes, a real hero. She should receive an award.”
Ciara says that, since the incident, Taylor has been “very nervous” and doesn’t want to be left on his own.
She also urged utility companies to “do more” to secure their work sites.
Cathy Rogers, whose daughter, Emma - a pupil at St Therese’s PS - pulled tiny Taylor from the trench, said she was “really, really proud” of the eight-year-old’s actions.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Cathy. “Emma’s not very big herself but, yet, she managed to pull Taylor out of the water. She was so scared after it because she thought that, at one stage, she was going to be dragged into the hole herself. But she said she pulled and pulled at his arm and eventually got him out.
“She’s still pretty shook up but she knows she should feel proud.”
A spokesperson for firmus energy said the safety of members of the public, its staff and contractors was “of paramount importance to us and we adhere to very strict guidelines to ensure that the well-being of those living and working in the area are our priority.”
“We have reviewed the photographs which we take before leaving any site and have confirmed that the trench was appropriately secured on Friday afternoon,” said the spokesperson.
“However, these works were vandalised over the weekend leaving the trench, which had partially filled with water due to the heavy rain on Saturday, without sufficient protective barriers. As a result of this act of vandalism, a young child was involved in an incident at this site. Although this did not result in injury, we take this matter very seriously and secured the site again within 30 minutes of being notified. Our sites are maintained to the very highest safety standards and we would appeal to local communities and community representatives to contact us immediately if they notice any tampering or vandalism on one of our sites.”
She said engineers continued to work in the area and should have the mains installation in the immediate area completed by the end of next week.