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Saturday 23 August 2014

Little girl killed in crash 'was sun, moon and stars to her heartbroken family'

David Raleigh

Published 28/06/2014 | 02:30

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Zoe Scannell in her Communion dress with her mum Alisha
Zoe Scannell in her Communion dress

LITTLE Zoe Scannell, who tragically lost her life in a car crash, was the "sun, moon and stars" to her family.

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A family holiday in west Cork turned into a deadly nightmare when a collision occurred at Owenahincha Cross, Rosscarbery, Co Cork, at around 3pm on Thursday.

Zoe (8), who had celebrated her First Holy Communion a little over a month ago, died instantly in the collision. Her mother, Alisha Scannell – a popular hair stylist from Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick – was removed from the scene by air ambulance to Cork University Hospital, where she remains in a critical condition.

In a poignant twist, Alisha was the coordinator of Zoe's First Holy Communion programme entitled: "Do This In Memory Of Me".

The 2005-registered grey Nissan Primera, in which Zoe was travelling, ended up in the middle of the road in the incident.

The other car, a silver Audi A3 – which gardai believe was being driven by an unaccompanied 17-year-old male – went off the road, broke through an embankment, and came to a rest about 20 metres below the road surface.

The teenager remains in hospital for observation.

Alisha Scannell's partner, Eddie Murphy, from Abbeyfeale, who sustained minor injuries, is keeping a bedside vigil beside his partner of four years.

Another adult and two children, travelling with the Limerick family, were also hurt in the collision but remain in a stable condition.

Tributes flowed in for Zoe, and her mother, who it also emerged has recently battled against cancer.

Zoe's tearful classmates in Scoil Mhathair De, Abbeyfeale, lit candles, drew pictures of her and held a special Mass in her memory.

Parish priest Canon John O'Shea said the entire community was "traumatised", but had also rallied around the Scannells.

Love

"There was a constant stream of neighbours and friends and cousins coming to the house. Every one of them were heartbroken, to think that such a young life could be snuffed away so quickly from us," Fr O'Shea said.

"(Zoe) led the Corpus Christi procession with her class last Saturday evening. Alice, her grandmother, is heartbroken because she thought the sun, moon and stars shone out through Zoe, and (Zoe) brought her family so much joy and so much love."

He described the vibrant eight-year-old as "a beautiful little girl".

Retiring school principal Marie Gleeson, who was also Zoe's teacher, was visibly upset as she spoke about the girl who captured the hearts of the locality. "You get very close and attached to children during the year, and Zoe was an outstanding little pupil," she said.

"She was a wonderful child in class and she took part in so many events. We've had such a happy year in her second class," Ms Gleeson added.

Counselling services have been offered at the school.

Tributes were also made to her mother, who works in Trendy Locks Salon, Abbeyfeale. She had trained at Bellissimo Hair and Beauty Academy in Limerick city.

According to a family friend, Ms Scannell was diagnosed with cancer in 2010 but never let it beat her.

"She was just such an amazingly strong girl through it all. I remember her rock was her little girl. Then she met her partner Eddie and it was like the best thing that ever happened to her."

A senior staff member at Bellissimo said: "We're all thinking about her."

Owner Darragh Curtin said: "My heart just goes out to everyone involved. Alisha is in our thoughts and prayers."

Zoe's body was removed to Cork University Hospital for a post-mortem examination. Funeral arrangements are not expected to be made until more is known about her mother's condition in hospital.

In pictures on Alisha's Facebook account, Zoe looked angelic in her white Holy Communion frock, matching headpiece and gloves. Alisha posted the treasured photographic memories on her online account only two days before her little girl's tragic death.

Anyone with information about the crash is asked to contact Clonakilty garda station on 023 8821570 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

Irish Independent

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