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Three-year-old Caleb Watters was rescued by a passerby after he fell into the River Lee last Friday.

Cork parents praise 'heroic' woman who jumped into river and saved three-year-old boy

Alan and Adriana Watters have set up a fundraising page to thank the mother-of-13 who rescued their son.

THE PARENTS OF a three-year-old boy who fell into the River Lee in Cork have praised the heroic mother-of-13 who jumped in to save him.

Alan and Adriana Watters say they will always be grateful to Maria Foley, a Cobh woman who jumped about five metres into low tide to save their son, Caleb, last Friday.

The Watters have set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Foley, 44, and her family, which has so far raised €2,340.

Adrianna told Cork’s RedFM‘s Neil Prendeville Show today that her au pair, Anna, was walking along the river with Caleb and his 18-month-old sister, Lucia, when the boy ran under a barrier without warning and fell into the water.

“It was really just a split second that didn’t give her any time to grab him,” Adriana said.

Anna started shouting for help. She had the buggy with her. Obviously, she wanted to jump after him and she was looking for someone to hold the buggy.
But in that split second, Maria was already there, she was already in the water. She reacted without thinking, she reacted so so fast.

Foley held Caleb afloat in the water while waiting for emergency services to arrive. They were then winched to safety.

Victor Shine of Cork City Fire Brigade has described Foley’s actions as an “exceptional feat of heroism”, the radio show heard.

Shine said she was lucky to escape serious injury from jumping into the water from such a height at low tide.

Caleb’s father, Alan, said the shock of the ordeal was still sinking in.

“It’s hard to believe that this actually happened to my boy,” he said. “If Maria wasn’t there, this would be a totally different conversation right now.”

The couple said Caleb wasn’t injured in the accident, but has been having nightmares.

They also defended the actions of their au-pair, who has since been the victim of some online abuse.

“It’s very easy for people to judge. In a situation like that, it was a massive shock,” said Adriana.

She did what she could, she was ready to jump in. There was a man at the scene very quick to hold the buggy but Maria was just past her (into the water).
It’s very harsh for people to criticise her. She loves our kids to bits and they love her to bits.

Adriana said she has spoken with Foley since the incident and is hoping to bring Caleb to meet her and thank her in person.

“She’s a very humble woman,” she said. “She’s absolutely amazing. She just didn’t think twice – she heard the shout, saw what happened and just jumped in.”

Read: Three-year-old child rescued by passerby after falling into River Lee

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