Boy pulled from fast-flowing river in major rescue operation
The child was retrieved from the Braid River and immediately airlifted to hospital.
A boy was swept more than four miles down a fast-flowing river in Northern Ireland before being pulled out by rescue teams.
A major search was launched after the child, believed to be five years old, fell into the Braid River near Skye Park in Ballymena, County Antrim, at around 1pm on Saturday.
He was rescued more than 45 minutes later near Tullaghgarley and immediately airlifted to hospital, the Community Rescue Service said.
Sean McCarry, regional commander of the organisation, said teams had worked closely with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), fire service and air ambulance during the multi-agency response.
Mr McCarry said emergency services were alerted at around 1pm after the boy entered the river near the Ecos Centre.
He said: “He got swept away quite fast with it, he was travelling quite a distance.
“He was doing a mile in under 15 minutes.”
Mr McCarry said rescuers were “running desperately” after the boy, while a police helicopter observed from above and reported any sightings.
“The police were co-coordinating and telling us where we needed to go to next and we were just trying to get ahead of him in the river,” he said.
“Eventually that happened and he was pulled out of the river and put into the air ambulance.”
The youngster spent more than 45 minutes in the water and travelled a minimum of four miles down the river, Mr McCarry said.
“Our thoughts go out to the family and we hope it will be a good outcome,” he added.
A spokeswoman for PSNI said: “A child has been pulled from the Braid River in Ballymena following a large search and rescue operation.
“The boy, believed to be five years old, has been taken to hospital by air ambulance.”