Sunday 17 December 2017

Grieving mother tells of moment car hit daughter (3)

Georgina O'Halloran

A heartbroken mother has told how her three-year-old daughter called out to her just seconds before she was struck by the car which killed her.

Little Isabella O'Keeffe smiled at her mother, Patricia, and went to cross the road before she was hit by the car.

A grief-stricken Ms O'Keeffe yesterday recounted the moments before the fatal accident at an inquest at Dublin City Coroner's Court.

She said she sensed danger and shouted to Isabella not to cross the road just before the tragic accident on Seabury Lane, Malahide, Co Dublin, on May 25 last year.

The family was on the way home to The Warren from Montessori school and Isabella and her sister Hannah had crossed the road in the residential area.

"Hannah and Isabella crossed Seabury Lane Road. This was unusual for them to do. They would usually wait for me at the corner. They had crossed safely so I wasn't concerned," said Ms O'Keeffe, who had her third child, Barra, in a buggy.

However, upon seeing her mother on the other side of the road, Isabella, who had celebrated her third birthday just two weeks earlier, went to cross back again.

Ms O'Keeffe said she felt a car was coming and tried to warn the toddler.

"Isabella turned around and smiled and me and she just called out 'Mummy'.

"I shouted 'Isabella, don't cross' or something. Hannah shouted 'No, Isabella'."

Ms O'Keeffe said she thought the car would see her and that she couldn't take her eyes off Isabella.

"Isabella just seemed to hop from behind a parked car on to the road. I saw Isabella's face smiling and then she glanced at the car and the car hit her. Isabella went up in the air and then under the car."


The car involved in the incident was driven by another mother, Hyun Young Jung, who had picked up her own daughter at the same Montessori a short time earlier.

The two mothers had spoken to each other at the Montessori and Ms Jung had returned a book she had borrowed to Ms O'Keeffe.

The court heard that Ms Jung was driving within the 50km/h speed limit and did not have enough time to avoid hitting Isabella.

"All of a sudden there was a small little girl who appeared at the front of my car. As soon as I saw her I felt the impact.

"I hit the brakes and turned the car to the right. It happened in seconds," she said.

Isabella suffered a serious head injury and was rushed to Temple Street Children's Hospital where she died the following day.

A file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who directed that no charges be brought.

Ms O'Keeffe, and Isabella's father, Padraig, remained outside the courtroom for much of the hearing.

A jury of three women and three men returned a verdict of accidental death under the direction of Coroner Dr Brian Farrell, who told the court the little girl's death was a tragedy.

Irish Independent

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