Wednesday 19 December 2018

'Little princess' (5) crushed to death by defective sliding gate

Tragedy: Sienna Joyce
Tragedy: Sienna Joyce

Louise Roseingrave

A heavy sliding gate was mechanically defective when it crushed a five-year-old girl outside her home, an inquest heard.

Sienna Joyce died just weeks before her sixth birthday after the gate derailed from it's sliders and fell, trapping her underneath.

"She was our little princess. She was such a girly girl, she loved to dress up, she loved her long curly hair. She was a little character, she could light up a room and everyone loved her," her father, David Joyce Jr, said. "She was my life, the air that I breathed. We are devastated to have lost her but nothing will bring her back."

Sienna was playing outside her home at the The Ward, Ashbourne, Co Meath, on June 27, 2016, when she came inside and spoke to her mother.

Ms Joyce said she later heard the "loudest bang" and saw her son trying to lift the gate. She said: "I ran and tried to lift it but I couldn't. I screamed for help."

Her partner and his father were working down the yard. The gate was constructed of solid timber with a steel frame. It took a number of people to lift it.

"I knew things were bad but she was alive," Mr Joyce said. Sienna was rushed to Temple Street Children's Hospital, but she was later pronounced dead.

Gardaí investigated the incident and a file was submitted to the DPP, but no prosecution was directed. The court heard that maintenance work had been carried out on the gate two weeks previously and Mr Joyce was waiting for it to be completed.

Consulting engineer Damien Power said there was no physical stop for the rollers present and therefore nothing to stop the gate rolling out of its tracks.

Mr Power said it was the second fatal incident he had investigated involving this type of gate.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of misadventure, noting "the risk that existed which sadly contributed to the events surrounding Sienna's death".

She said: "It is something that is unimaginable, the loss of a beautiful young girl in these circumstances."

Irish Independent

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