Girl (9) died from fall after begging her dad for spin on hay trailer
A young girl died from head injuries after falling off a trailer loaded with hay as she tried to stop her hat from blowing away.
Sophie Pearson (9) lost her battle for life five days later in intensive care in hospital following the accident on a road near the family farm at Coolbally, Clough, Ballacolla in Laois on July 13 last year.
Her distraught father David Pearson recalled how Sophie and her brothers Scott (10) and Ben (7) had begged him to be taken for a "spin" on the trailer as he moved bales of hay that day. The bales were being loaded from a field less than half a mile down the road.
"It was a lovely day, very sunny and hot," he said, "The kids had been pestering me all day to go for a spin on the trailer. I had left them down at the house, but in the end they had my heart broke and I gave in. So, when I was going up for the last load, I brought them with me. On the way up, they sat in the trailer, the three of them, Sophie, Ben and Scott. They weren't messing or anything, they were very good, sitting still."
Mr Pearson loaded the last bales round side down. On the return journey to the house Sophie and Ben sat in the trailer on the dip between the bales and they had netting to hold on to. The road was good, with no potholes, Mr Pearson said, and he was driving at 10 to 12 miles an hour. He was being careful and keeping an eye on Sophie and Ben "the whole time" because they were on the trailer, he said, and they were sitting still.
"Sophie was wearing a peaked cap. Whatever happened, her cap blew off, and she went to grab it. And then she fell off the trailer. I saw her straight away. I stopped and Ben shouted at me 'Daddy, Sophie!'. I got out of the tractor and I saw Sophie, with most of her body on the grass and the bottom part of her legs on the road. She was lying on her side," he said.
Mr Pearson called the emergency services immediately and Scott ran to a house for help. The children's babysitter Patricia Rea went to the scene and tried to comfort Sophie while he stayed on the phone with the emergency services. Ben was putting water onto his sister's face, and the child's mother Diane was also at the scene.
She was taken by air ambulance to Tallaght Hospital where scans showed bleeding on the right side of the brain. She was later transferred to Temple Street Hospital where attempts to relieve the pressure on her brain failed. She died on July 18 from severe head injuries and the family agreed to organ donation.
Sgt Mary Gilmartin said she was satisfied it was a "tragic accident" caused when Sophie tried to grab the hat.
"The surface was good, the conditions were great, there were no skid marks at the scene, no evidence of negligent driving and the vehicles were in excellent condition," she said.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, as Coroner Dr Brian Farrell described it as an "unspeakable" tragedy. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has highlighted safety on Irish farms, with 18 lives lost so far this year.