Thursday, September 07, 2017

AN 11-YEAR-OLD Tullow girl bravely risked everything to save the life of a six-year-old boy who was desperately close to drowning in a wasteland swamp.

Kirsta Valteris (11) from Gortnahowan, Tullow valiantly jumped into a mud-filled pond to rescue the boy, while her quick-thinking friend Keisha Moloney (12) managed to revive him with CPR and comforted the terrified child.

The girls had been walking from Gortnahowan to the nearby housing estate in Graigowen last Wednesday afternoon through a wasteland area known locally as ‘the quarry’. Unknown to anyone, the young boy, his older brother and their friend, aged eight and nine, decided to go swimming in a pond in the wasteland area.

Krista Valteris (right), aged 11, and Keisha Moloney (12) demonstrate how they saved a six-year-old boy from drowning in a muck-filled pool in Tullow
Photo: Michael O’Rourke

Within minutes, the youngest boy got into severe difficulty, his brother and friend desperately looking on, unable to help as the young boy repeatedly submerged under the water.

He couldn’t see because there was muck all over his eyes and he couldn’t get his breath. He was crying and calling for his mammy and going under the water. I was really scared when he went under and I couldn’t find him … then I caught his arm,” a courageous Kirsta told The Nationalist.

The nightmare began minutes earlier when the girls were approached by what turned out to be the boys’ concerned parents.

Me and my friend Keisha were walking through the quarry when people came over to us and asked if we’d seen three boys that they were looking for. We hadn’t,” explained Kirsta.

But as they continued walking, the girls suddenly heard screaming in the distance and ran over to a large, wet swamp-like area containing a pond.

We saw a pile of clothes on the ground and a Mickey Mouse teddy beside them; we knew the little boy they were trying to find had a Mickey Mouse teddy. Then we saw the boys in the distance. They were all naked and swimming in the swamp,” explained Kirsta.

The older boys were not in difficulty themselves but were screaming for help. Then suddenly, even further away from them, the girls spotted the six-year-old boy, who was flailing under the water.

Kirsta took off her shoes and waded into the pond, desperately trying to reach the boy by stretching out a pair of jeans. “I still couldn’t reach him so then I just jumped in … he was going fully under – the pond was way over his head,” said Kirsta.

Kirsta tried to comfort the boy, telling him he’d be okay as she rubbed his eyes with a t-shirt while trying to grab hold of him.

The mud-filled pond was actually all the way up to Kirsta’s neck but the determined schoolgirl managed to haul the terrified boy out. The little boy was clearly in shock and seemed comatose from his harrowing ordeal. Keisha began administering CPR as soon as they got him safely out.

Keisha brought over a towel and was telling him he was alright and that his mammy would be here soon, then his parents came and they took him home,” said Kirsta.

I was soaking and my knees were all scratched and stuff, but I was fine,” she says.

A few hours after their ordeal, the girls went to the boy’s home and were delighted to see that he was making a full recovery. “His mother said thank you very much; they were all so grateful,” said Kirsta.

A sixth-class pupil at Scoil Mhuire Lourdes, Tullow, Kirsta’s incredibly brave act has been hailed as heroic by her family; so, too, the actions of Keisha, who has just started first year at Tullow Community School.

Kirsta didn’t think twice about it – she just jumped in and dragged the boy out … she’s the bravest girl I know,” said her proud sister Karina (20).

In an incredible timely twist of fate, Kirsta puts her brave actions down to the fact that the week before this frightening incident she had completed a water safety course with Baltinglass Kayaking Club on the River Slaney at Aghade. “I go kayaking, so the week before this I was taught all this water safety stuff, so I just did as I was taught,” she explained.

She’s a very, very brave girl,” said Chris O’Loan, who runs kayaking club. “She followed the safety steps perfectly. She kept herself safe and tried to reach him before going into the water herself. We’re all so pleased with her.”

Kirsta’s family moved to Tullow from Latvia 12 years ago and her mother Marika Metla is justifiably hugely proud of her little hero.

Yeah, she’s really proud of me and said how important it was that I had just done the kayaking water-safety course,” smiled Kirsta.

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By Suzanne Pender
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