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Search Search. Menu Sections. A woman has been hailed a heroine after she courageously waded into the sea to save the life of a swimmer and pulled the body of her drowned friend out of the freezing water. A ine Paterson 44a driving instructor, was walking a dog on the picturesque Ballycastle beach for a friend suffering from a sore back when the tragedy unfolded at around breakfast time on Monday. The woman who died was mother-of-two Deirdre McShane, a midwife from Ballycastle, who is related to a of Sinn Fein politicians in the area. She and the survivor were part of a group of cold water swimmers who visit Ballycastle most mornings and were familiar sights to Mrs Paterson and other dog walkers on the beach.
Mrs Paterson, who is a part-time care worker, said the waves were so high in Ballycastle on Monday as she approached the beach she didn't think anyone would have gone for a swim. Enter address This field is required Up. She told the Belfast Telegraph that she initially thought what she saw in the sea was a bit of driftwood or a seal. The sea was so dangerous that I feared it could have taken me as well. Mrs Paterson said that during his unsuccessful attempt to revive Ms McShane two other women ran across the beach.
The emergency services, including members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance and local ambulance crews, were quickly on the scene of the tragedy. Paramedics helped the survivor before taking her to the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine for treatment for hypothermia, where she was in a stable condition on Monday night.
Late on Monday afternoon Mrs Paterson, an occasional swimmer herself, said she was still in agony, adding: "I think I pulled every muscle imaginable. But I feel so sad for the families of the woman who died and the other lady who got into difficulties. She added: "There was nobody else on the beach. What do you do?
In my head I saw a swimmer fighting for her life so I dragged her out. Emergency services officials, however, have praised Mrs Paterson for her calm response in the crisis. Sinn Fein councillor and election candidate in North Antrim Cara McShane confirmed she was related to the dead woman and described her as a much-loved and likeable person who swam daily and wouldn't have taken unnecessary risks.
HM Coastguard said the freezing conditions in Ballycastle on Monday morning after an overnight storm were a factor in the tragedy. Ciaran Kinney said even world champion swimmers would have found it find it difficult to cope in the plummeting temperatures. He said the coastguard did not want to discourage cold water swimming groups right across Northern Ireland from their daily pastimes but he said they should always take care before entering the water. Representatives of the ambulance and fire services said their officers were deeply saddened by Mrs McShane's death, particularly as they lived locally and knew the victims.
Ambulance spokesman Joe McGaughern said the incident was one of the worst tragedies he has had to face in his career. Already have an ? Log in. Get quick and easy access to the latest Northern Ireland news, sport, business and opinion with the Belfast Telegraph App.
Ballycastle tragedy: Woman's heroic efforts hailed as town stunned by death of swimmer Deirdre McShane.
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