Aoife died from drown­ing, not he­li­copter fall

Enniscorthy Guardian - - NEWS - By DAVID LOOBY

THE in­quest into the death of a 14-year-old girl who died off the rocks at Hook Head while on a scout­ing trip in De­cem­ber 2015, has heard that she died due to a lack of oxy­gen to the brain as a re­sult of near drown­ing.

Dublin Coro­ner’s Court heard last week that there was no ev­i­dence of trauma that con­trib­uted to her death and that the coast­guard crew in­volved in the res­cue had never per­formed a double winch­ing res­cue si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­fore.

Aoife Win­ter­lich, from Walkin­stown Road, Crum­lin, Dublin, was vis­it­ing Hook Head light­house when she was swept off the rocks into the sea along with three oth­ers. The tragic teenager fell 45 feet af­ter reach­ing the door of a coast­guard he­li­copter dur­ing a res­cue oper­a­tion. An in­ci­dent re­port from the Air Ac­ci­dent and In­ves­ti­ga­tion Unit Ire­land (AAIU) into the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the death of Aoife Win­ter­lich found ear­lier this year that the winch­man who opted to lift her and a sec­ond teen out of the wa­ter si­mul­ta­ne­ously made a “sound de­ci­sion”.

Aoife died at Crum­lin Chil- dren’s Hos­pi­tal five days later.

Pro­fes­sor Mau­reen O’Sul­li­van car­ried out a post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion. She told the coro­ner’s court that Aoife died due to a lack of oxy­gen to the brain as a re­sult of near drown­ing. The pathol­o­gist said there was bruis­ing to the teenager’s body but in her opin­ion, there was no ev­i­dence of trauma that con­trib­uted to her death. Ms O’Sul­li­van said the fall into the wa­ter while be­ing winched onto the he­li­copter was un­likely to have con­trib­uted to her demise.

She said the dam­age had been done dur­ing the ini­tial im­mer­sion in the wa­ter. John Lawlor, CEO of Scout­ing Ire­land, has told the coro­ner’s court that a visit to the light­house at Hook Head is con­sid­ered a low-risk ac­tiv­ity, and very typ­i­cal of a trip that scouts go on. He said no risk had ever been iden­ti­fied with trips to Hook Head and ac­knowl­edged that there was po­ten­tial for chil­dren to go on the rocks near the light­house, but he said that was not part of the planned ac­tiv­ity.

Pic­ture: John Hughes

Aoife Win­ter­lich fell while be­ing winched aboard a res­cue he­li­copter.

The late Aoife Win­ter­lich.

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