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Scout trip teenager dies after being rescued from Irish Sea

Published 11/12/2015

An Irish Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene within minutes
An Irish Coast Guard helicopter was on the scene within minutes

A teenage girl swept off Hook Head before being winched from the sea has died.

Aoife Winterlich, 14, was on a venture scout trip with 13 others when four of them were thrown into the Irish Sea by a large wave on Sunday afternoon.

A number of the group had been on rocks below the lighthouse when the tragedy occurred.

Two managed to swim and clamber to safety while a teenage boy held on to Ms Winterlich, keeping her afloat until the Coast Guard rescue helicopter arrived within minutes.

She died in hospital.

Scouting Ireland said the entire community was left devastated by her death.

"On behalf of all our members, Scouting Ireland extends our deepest sympathies to her family, who have lost a much loved daughter and sister. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this very sad time," a spokesman said.

Ms Winterlich, from Walklinstown in Dublin, recently joined t he 55th South Circular Road Scout Group.

"In her short time with the group she was an enthusiastic and popular member who participated fully in all activities," the spokesman said.

"We are providing support to the group and in particular to the venture scouts and their leaders who were visiting Hook Head last Sunday. As you would expect, they are deeply upset and saddened at Aoife's passing."

Friends took to Facebook to pay tribute to her describing her as beautiful, charismatic, cheerful and funny while others reposted photos of her.

The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) is investigating the rescue after both Ms Winterlich and the boy were winched together in an unusual and challenging manoeuvre.

Normally only one person at a time is winched in a rescue from the water.

The Irish Coast Guard was praised for its rapid response in the aftermath of the rescue with the operation taking 17 minutes from time the alarm was raised and the crew tasked.

Scouting Ireland is reviewing the expedition and the circumstances around the incident where teenagers were swept off the notorious headland.

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