(IRISH CENTRAL NEWS) – Billy Cronin, 14, has been hailed a hero after risking his own life to rescue the struggling siblings, who had got into difficulty when they were caught by a vicious rip tide during a swim in Brandon Bay, Co. Kerry. Details of the dramatic rescue, which took place on Wednesday of last week, have just come to light in The Kerryman newspaper. Quick-thinking Cronin, a trainee lifeguard from Cork, leapt into action when he spotted the two children had got into trouble in heavy surf and were seconds away from drowning. Fortunately, Cronin, who was on vacation when the incident occurred, was bodyboarding in close proximity to the drowning children – a 14-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister.
Speaking afterwards, he recalled the moment he first spotted the pair had got into difficulty in heavy surf.
He said: “I genuinely thought they were goners and the girl in particular had only seconds to spare.
“I saw they were in trouble and I remember thinking I would regret this big-time if I turned away as I paddled over.
“I only realized how serious it was when I got within 15 meters of them. The girl was going under and would have been gone in about 30 seconds. My big worry on reaching them was that the boy would pull me under as he was trashing around, but it was more important to try to rescue him.
“I was worried for my own safety alright, but I was full of air and just shouted at him not to touch me and that I was going to give him my body-board.”
The fearless teen managed to lift the boy safely onto his board while holding his sister’s head out of the water, all the time urging the siblings to relax as he planned how to transport them to the safety of the shore.
It was at this point that he was aided in the rescue effort in the nick of time by a kite surfer, who had raced to the scene after spotting the siblings’ father frantically pacing the shore and calling for help.
The kite surfer, a Co. Tipperary man called Tom Kennedy, helped get the girl onto the second body-board, after which they all made their way to the shore.
Kennedy, who was also on vacation at the time, recalled: “I was coming in on the kite when I noticed a man running along the beach and looking extremely agitated.
“I looked out then and saw the two of them up to 300 meters away, well out of their depth. So I dropped the kite and grabbed a body-board off a kid and said, ‘I’ll explain later’.
“I was going to go out and around the rip tide with them, but decided to take them in slowly and just let them get their breath, taking everything nice and relaxed.”
He added: “It was pure adrenaline I was on though and it felt like a scene from the TV show ‘Bondi Rescue’.”
The siblings were reunited with their overjoyed father as soon as they were brought to shore. But, as yet, no one has been able to establish the identity of the family, as they left the beach promptly afterwards.
But there’s no doubt the siblings owe their lives to young Cronin, who admitted he hasn’t stopped reflecting on his successful rescue operation and the fact he was fortunate enough to be in a nearby location at the time.
He added: “I keep thinking how I wouldn’t have been there for them if I had gone home on the day or decided to go out body-boarding in a different direction.”