'Am I going to die?' - Henry Shefflin on horror ride-on lawnmower accident in which his son (7) lost four toes
Henry Shefflin has said he still blames himself for the frightening accident involving a lawnmower in which his son Henry Jr lost four toes.
The former GAA star (38) and his wife Deirdre opened up about the terrifying moments after the accident, in which their son, aged six at the time, tripped beneath a ride-on lawnmower being operated by his father in May 2016.
Speaking on The Late Late Show, The Sunday Game pundit said the accident "happened in a blink of an eye" and warned other parents about the dangers posed by machinery.
"I was cutting the grass and himself and his sister were playing close enough to me and it was an accident, of course it was an accident. But this is where I made the mistake, I should have told them to go away from the machine. I was cutting the grass and they were playing around me.
"Little Henry was running around me and he tripped. He was so happy to be running past the ride-on lawnmover. He just looked back at me to smile at me as if to say 'Look at me Daddy', and with that he tripped and his leg just fell under the machine. The machine was just on him in the blink of an eye.
"It went from being so happy with a smile on his face to just anguish and pain. He was just on the ground in front of me. Just like that in the blink of a second," the dad-of-five said.
Speaking on the programme Henry's wife Deirdre Shefflin said her young son feared he would die after the accident, in which he lost four toes and part of his foot.
Deirdre said: "I grabbed the phone and I dialled 999. I just knew someone had been hurt. I didn't know if it was Henry, little Henry, or Freddie. I didn't know but I could tell by the wails of the girls. I could see Henry lifting little Henry up and going to the other side of the house. I was talking to this man on the other side of the phone and he was so calm. I could see Henry coming into the kitchen to get teatowels.
"He brought Henry into me and put him on the sofa. I sat at his hip because I just didn't want to look. I didn't know what happened I didn't want to know. I felt by holding him I was making him better. He kept apologising for his new shoes being ruined. He had just gotten new runners with a Minion on them and he kept apologising.
"He asked me three times, 'Mam am I going to die?' He was getting paler and paler. I kept holding him and telling him 'No you're not going to die, the ambulance is coming you're going to be fine."
The little boy was airlifted from the family's home in Kilkenny to Crumlin Children's Hospital, which Henry said was a difficult moment for him as a parent.
Henry said: "That was a very sad moment for me as a father. Because the helicopter came down and had to circle outside the house. You know it's your home and your family. It's where the heart of your family is.
"This big helicopter which you would have loved when you were a child, just landing for all the wrong reasons. I had to carry him across my garden out onto my father's field. I blamed myself.
"I still do. We have accidents but I could have controlled that accident. This incidence happens a lot but machinery is absolutely lethal," he said.
Fifteen months on from the accident, the parents said their young son is "a happy chappy" but will have to wear fillers in his shoes for the rest of his life.
Deirdre said: "He's got little fillers in both shoes and that's it. That's what he will have for the rest of his life. He's a happy little chappie.
"We were very lucky."
The couple have five children, Sadhbh (8), Henry Jr (7), Siún (6), Freddie (3) and Tom (eight months).