Heartache for families after two toddlers die in separate accidents
TWO families are mourning toddler boys killed in separate accidents.
The parents of Thomas Ryan believed their two-year-old was safely asleep in bed when he was struck by a van in Co Tipperary.
Meanwhile, a three-year-old boy died in a farm accident after being crushed by a JCB while out playing.
The child, named locally as Fionn Mulhall, died from crush injuries after apparently getting trapped beside a JCB in a farmyard shortly before 12pm yesterday on a farm at Gortnascreenagh outside Drimoleague, Co Cork.
The operator of the machine was apparently unaware the boy had approached the JCB to watch it working.
Immediately after he realised what had happened, the operator raised the alarm.
He was later treated at the scene for shock.
In the first tragedy, Thomas Ryan had been put to bed only a short while before he left the house on the Rosanna Road in Tipperary town around 8pm on Thursday evening. He was struck by a van in the yard.
His mother, Pam, believed he was safely tucked up in bed.
He was rushed to South Tipperary General Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.
His father, Rocky, had been talking to the driver and passenger in the vehicle at the halting site a short distance from the centre of Tipperary town.
He had no idea Thomas had come out to the yard and the boy was hit as the van moved off. Thomas was the couple's only son.
The family is well known in both the settled and Traveller communities. Tipperary Travellers' Project co-ordinator Margaret Casey said she had visited the halting site off the Rosanna Road about an hour before the tragedy on Thursday night.
She described Thomas as "a lovely little angel. He was so cute and chatty and he was by his dad's side 24/7."
She explained that the toddler had been put to bed about 7.30pm but sneaked out just before 8pm when "the poor boy drove over him". She added: "Our hearts go out to the family."
In the second tragedy, paramedics rushed Fionn to Bantry General Hospital but, despite desperate efforts by doctors to stabilise his condition, he was pronounced dead.
The boy's shocked family, who raced to attend his hospital bedside, are now being comforted by relatives and friends.
Fionn was the youngest child of Greg and Imelda Mulhall, who farm at Drimoleague.
Ms Mulhall is a primary school teacher in nearby Bantry. The couple have three older sons, John, Greg and Luke, ranging in age from five to 11 years. Funeral arrangements will be announced later today.
A Health and Safety Authority review will be now carried out.
Locals described the incident as "absolutely heartbreaking".
"The entire community is heartbroken by this. It has cast a dark cloud of the area," one neighbour said.
The boy is the second child to die from crush-related injuries on a farmyard in Cork in the space of just three months.