Girl drowns at Co Antrim beach

Published Monday, 16 July 2012
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An 11-year-old girl from Lurgan has died after getting into difficulties while body boarding at Portballintrae in Co Antrim.

Girl drowns at Co Antrim beach
Bushfoot Strand in Portballintrae, where the girl drowned. (© UTV)

The girl, who has been named locally as Bethany Cousins, was on a family holiday to the north coast when the tragedy happened in the waters at Bushfoot Strand shortly after 2pm on Sunday.

Her father tried to rescue her, and a passerby who phoned 999 jumped into the sea and also helped to get her out of the sea.

"Passersby, police and other people decided to continue with CPR until the Ambulance Service arrived," said Gordon Munro from the Coastguard.

Problems accessing the strand meant 13 minutes after the original emergency call, paramedics reached the girl on foot.

She was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine but died later on Sunday night.

Councillor David Harding of the Ulster Unionist Party lives in Portballintrae and said the death had come as a shock to the whole community.

"We're a seaside village, thousands of people come here every summer. Thankfully, tragedies like this are very rare - it really does affect everyone.

"We're really very, very upset for the family - what a tragedy to happen to such a young girl."

SDLP Moyle District Councillor Donal Cunningham has expressed his sympathy and sadness over the death.

"This is a terrible tragedy and my heart goes out to the young girl's family who must be totally devastated at this time.

"There is an overwhelming sense of sadness in Portballintrae as people learn that this child's life has been taken in such a cruel way in an area of such beauty.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her relatives as they try to come to terms with their loss."

© UTV News
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6 Comments
Peter in Cookstown wrote (797 days ago):
As a regular surfer to many beachs around Northern Ireland this beach in particular and white rocks between here and portrush need some serious attendation. I am a lifeguard and a extremely strong swimmer and I've been surfing with friends who arnt. They say the under currents and way in which the surf can appear on these beaches would give them enough reason not to go back. Safety measures need put into place. Full risk assessments need carried out. Its obvious to me that if the paramedics cant drive onto the beach, there an extremely big cause for concern. Terrible tragic news & all I could advise other parents is to take there children to swimming leasons. The two main things humans should be able to complete is walk and swim. Water is extremely dangerous.
tragic news in belfast wrote (798 days ago):
was there no signs to warn people the dangers of these waters and not to swim in them?
Whattaboutye in Grief wrote (798 days ago):
A terrible tragedy and my thoughts go out to the parents of the little girl. I have surfed up at Portballintrae and the place is notorious for Rips and currents. The problem is that apart from the foot bridge there is no access to the beach. The place really needs a life guard.
Peter McCarter in Lurgan wrote (798 days ago):
How utterly tasteless that the ad which played before the report of a wee girl drowning at Portballintrae was for the NI Tourist Board, someone needs to monitor this, maybe it's random but certainly it needs looked at. My heart goes out to the family.
Martin in Portballintrae wrote (798 days ago):
Very sad situation. My heart goes out to to the family concerned. Riptides on this beach are very strong and the beach is deeply shelved. Most locals are aware and do not bathe here. It would be useful if UTV could educate people that, if caught in a rip, you MUST swim parallel to the beach to escape its pull. We can not turn the clock back, but this might avert future tragedies.
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