Co Armagh ‘hero’ pulls woman from crashed car

A coastguard helicopter took one of the crash victims to hospital
A coastguard helicopter took one of the crash victims to hospital

A Lurgan student who saved a woman trapped in an upturned car in a river has been hailed as a “hero”.

Andrew Johnston, 21, entered the water and helped to free the woman – aged in her 60s – before the emergency services arrived at the scene at Porthall, near Lifford in Co Donegal on Saturday evening.

With the help of the woman’s 65-year-old partner and other members of the public, Mr Johnston managed to free her from the crashed car.

He told BBC News NI: “As soon as we got her out and she had surfaced, someone threw out a garden hose which we used to pull her into the bank.”

Mr Johnston said his efforts to rescue the woman “was all instinct”, adding: “At the end of the day, I am an able-bodied male, the man that did most of the work in my eyes was the 65-year-old man who has three broken bones in his back.”

Fire services from both sides of the Irish border helped with the rescue and a coastguard helicopter was also called to the scene of the incident, which happened at about 6.30pm.

Medics performed CPR and first aid on the couple after they were taken from the water.

The woman was taken to Altnagelvin Area Hospital in Londonderry in Northern Ireland by the helicopter, while her partner was taken by ambulance.

It is understood she has since been moved to Letterkenny University Hospital in Co Donegal, where she is in a serious condition.

Garda Insp Michael Harrison praised passers-by who helped to rescue the couple.

He added: “It was very perilous what they did, very risky, but they did it and it was just one of those situations where a number of intelligent people came along at the right time.

“They definitely did something which no ordinary person would do, and if that’s what you need to be a hero then that’s what they should be called.”