An undergraduate at IT Sligo who is a Reserve Garda waded into a bitterly cold lake on an October night to help save the trapped driver of car that had somersaulted off the road and landed on its roof in the water.
Life-saving skills learned by Stephen Corrigan (20) during his Bachelor of Business in Recreation and Leisure course at Sligo proved invaluable when he and full-time Garda colleague, Garda Mark Irwin (23,) came to the rescue.
Without their quick action – and since the lights of the overturned car could not be seen above the water – the vehicle might have lain undiscovered until daylight.
With water lapping above their waists, the pair managed to prise partially open the driver’s door and kept his head above the water line until the fire service arrived with winch gear.
Now in his second year at IT Sligo, Stephen, joined the Reserve Garda in November 2011.
He and another IT Sligo student, Reserve Garda Shane Kilcoyne, are due to attend a course at the Garda Depot in Templemore, Co Tipperary, this month as part of their ongoing Reserve training.
Coincidentally each is from Louisbourgh, Co Mayo, their station is in Westport, Co Mayo, and both are taking the Business in Recreation and Leisure course.
Stephen, who hopes to become a full-time member of the Garda Síochána after graduation – and so follow in the footsteps of his father, James, who retired from the service a year ago – says practical skill he acquired on his degree course gave him the confidence to venture into the lake.
“When I was entering the water it was in the back of my mind that I had the confidence to go in, although I didn’t know how deep it would be, because I had developed good swimming and life saving skills in that module of the degree.”
Details of the lake rescue, which happened at about 9.30pm on October 29th, came to light at a recent sitting of Westport District Court when the driver of the car was convicted of dangerous driving and Garda Irwin, from Ballymote, Co Sligo, and Reserve Garda Corrigan were praised for their actions.
They were on mobile patrol with when they saw the Ford Focus go out of control and somersault into the lake beside the Leenan Road, outside Westport.
Speaking after the court case, Stephen said: “Garda Irwin radioed for assistance immediately as I went into the water. I came alongside the car and tried to open it on my own but it wouldn’t work. Then Mark came alongside and the two of us were just about able to open it enough to get our hands in through a very small space. We saw the man and got a hand to his chin and kept his head above the water in a small air pocket.
“We again tried to prise the door open further but to no avail. We supported him and kept talking to him to make sure he was conscious until the rest of the emergency services arrived. The fire brigade then got a winch onto the door and while that was happening we kept a hold of the man to keep him above the water to ensure that his head didn’t drop again.
Caption for photo above: Stephen Corrigan a student of Bachelor of Business in Recreation and Leisure who is also a Reserve Garda.