Dramatic footage surfaced earlier this year of a young woman being swept off a cliff by a massive wave during a visit to the Aran Islands.
Apu Gupta, a 21-year-old economics student based in London, was visiting Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, with her mother. Gupta was standing on a cliff overlooking the Wormhole (Poll na bPeist), a naturally formed rectangular pool near Dun Aengus, Inishmore’s famous prehistoric fort, when a wave suddenly burst over the cliff’s edge and knocked her down 40 feet to the rocks surrounding the Wormhole.
A couple also visiting the island, Seamus McCarthy and Fionnula Quigley, witnessed the terrifying accident and immediately sprang to action.
After attempting to call emergency services and realizing her phone had no reception, Quigley, a teacher, ran to the nearest house to call for help. McCarthy, a paramedic, rushed to aid Gupta.
I could see the girl trying to limp away to safety, but she couldn’t manage it,” he told the Irish Times.
“Her mother was hysterical and I went over to try to see if I could reach the girl, but I couldn’t. We got down part of the way, but no further – it was very dangerous.”
With the help of others, he fashioned a rope out of a jacket, tied it to a backpack, and lowered the backpack down to Gupta. She put it on and was lifted to safety with the make-shift rope.
Once away from the cliff edge, McCarthy focused on stabilizing her ankle and keeping her warm until a rescue helicopter arrived.
“I only did what anyone would have done,” he said.
The dramatic scene was accidentally captured on a tourist’s video. The footage immediately stopped once the emergency became apparent.
Speaking with the Irish Times, Gupta thanked McCarthy and Quigley for saving her. “Seamus saved my life and the policeman there was also wonderful. Everyone was so helpful to me.”
She said that she had just started to take video footage from the cliff when the next thing she knew the wave was rushing towards her.
“I tried to run, but it pushed me straight down. It was like being in a waterfall and that probably cushioned the fall.
“I was so scared because I thought the wave was going to come again. My ankle was completely smashed and the pain was bad,” she recalled.
Gupta recovered from the accident at a hospital in Galway. Her father flew from Calcutta to Ireland to be with her and to thank McCarthy and Quigley in person.
For his bravery and quick thinking, McCarthy was be honored with a Seiko Quick Thinking from Irish Water Safety.
* Originally published in April 2015.