Girl drowns at Co Antrim beach

Bushfoot Strand in Portballintrae, where the girl drowned.

An 11-year-old girl from Lurgan has died after getting into difficulties while body boarding at Portballintrae in Co Antrim.

Monday, 16 July 2012
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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."