A mum who became trapped in mud while out with her daughter near a rural spot in Carrick has called for more visible warnings at the site.
Laura Fitzpatrick and six-year-old Mia were visiting Lough Mourne reservoir on Saturday afternoon when they fell foul of boggy ‘quicksand’-like mud on the lake shore.
The pair, from Glengormley, were taking a walk around the perimeter of the lough while Laura’s friend, Jonathan Lightbody was fishing.
Speaking to the Times, Jonathan said: “I heard them start to scream so I ran over. Laura was waist-deep in mud on the shore and she was still sinking; Mia was up to her knees in mud.
“They were both in a complete panic.”
Jonathan managed the difficult task of pulling both Laura and Mia from the mud.
“It was really hard to pull Laura free as the suction was very strong around her legs,” he added.
“I managed to get her loose and told her to lean against a rock; I took Mia with me while I went to direct the ambulance to where Laura was. When I came back, she had passed out.”
The local mum was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where she was treated for minor injuries to her back.
She also suffered bruising to her legs and was given crutches to use.
“It was horrendous; I just thought, I’m going to die here,” said Laura, 32. “I don’t know what would have happened if Jonathan hadn’t have been there.
“It’s so dangerous; we didn’t know there was anything wrong with the ground and it happened that quickly. There should have been signs up to warn people.”
Echoing the call, Jonathan added: “There was another couple out for a walk round the shore and I had to go and warn them, otherwise the same thing might have happened.”
Mia, meanwhile has been left “in shock” after the incident. “She can’t even talk about it,” her mum said.
A spokesperson for NI Water said: “We are sorry to hear of the experience of two walkers at the Lough Mourne reservoir, Carrickfergus.
“It is a timely reminder to all those who visit reservoirs or any body of water that they should exercise extreme care when going close to the shore.
“The closer you get to a body of water, the surrounding area could be muddy and the ground soft and therefore may cause difficulties. The advice would always be to enjoy the reservoir from a safe distance.”
Meanwhile, a post on government website NI Direct indicated that water levels had been dropped by NI Water to allow “inspection and remedial works” at the Lough Mourne site.
However, the agency indicated that this information was now “invalid”, with recent water levels due to “a relatively dry summer and usage of the reservoir”.
The spokesperson added: “There is general signage warning visitors of the dangers of entering the reservoir for swimming and so on.
“Walkers and visitors to the site enter at their own risk and NI Water would urge them to always remain vigilant.”