Teen swept out to sea by riptide was 'special girl', say heartbroken parents
The heartbroken family of a teenager who died after being dragged out to sea by a strong tide have described her as their "special girl".
Jill Amante (14), had been out swimming with two friends near Seapoint Beach in Co Louth on Friday afternoon when she got into difficulty.
Emergency services were alerted and Jill was airlifted from the sea and brought to a nearby hospital but pronounced dead a short time later.
Her parents, Mercy and Alex, have paid tribute to their daughter following the heartbreaking tragedy.
Speaking from their home in Aston Village, in Drogheda, Jill's mother said: "She was such a happy child. She could come to church on Friday and Saturday night, and had just started reading to the other children."
Her father Alex added: "She was dancing and singing but she was a very respectful girl and a credit to her mum."
Jill had been playing with friends in the sea when they were hit by a strong tide, her aunt Jemima explained.
"They said the first wave hit them hard so they decided to get out of the water.
"The three of them were making their way back to shore and Jill was one of the furthest behind.
"But as they were getting out, Jill was hit by a second wave that took her back into the water," Jemima said.
"Her friends didn't realise at first that Jill hadn't made it out - they looked around then, but they couldn't see her.
"And when they realised, that's when they called the lifeguard, but it was too late."
Funeral details have not yet been finalised and will be released later.
In a statement, Jill's school principal at Ballymakenny College, Alan Mynes, said what had happened was a "terrible tragedy" for the family, the school and the community.
"We are deeply saddened by this devastating news. Jill was a bright, funny and popular student - she made a tremendous contribution to Ballymakenny College life in her short time," he said.
The Drogheda Coast Guard, who were tasked with preparing a landing zone for helicopter Rescue 116 after they recovered Jill, also expressed their condolences.
"Drogheda Coast Guard team would like to extend their deepest sympathies to the girl's family and friends during this tragic time. RIP," they said.