Fire horror: I kept shouting ‘Mari jump’ but she went back in
Dad tells of anguish after failed bid to save daughter from blaze
MARI CONNOLLY died when she climbed back inside a burning building after seeing her father fall from the roof while attempting to save her and her two sisters.
Richard Connolly (27) has revealed how he battled to save his little girl and his devastation on learning she had died.
"It can't be true -- I had her," he told his sister on learning the news.
The five-year-old was killed in the blaze that broke out at her home on Termon Road, Boyle, Co Roscommon, at around 2.30am on Monday.
Mr Connolly suffered a severe back injury during a daring move that saved her sisters Naomi (6) and Lauren (8).
The Irish Independent has learnt that Mari died after she climbed back into the burning building, having earlier been brought to safety and placed on the roof by her father.
Last night Mr Connolly's sister Orla Connolly said her brother wanted people to know that he had not left little Mari behind.
Mr Connolly, who remains in the Mater Hospital in Dublin, had asked his sister to speak on his behalf.
Ms Connolly said her brother became aware of the fire, woke the children and planned to escape to the back roof and through the next-door neighbour's window.
He and the three girls were sleeping in the same room at the back of the family home.
Ms Connolly said that when her brother woke up and opened the bedroom door, he saw that the stairs were "up in flames". The entire room was filled with smoke when he woke the children and then opened the window at the back of the room.
He planned to place the children on the back roof, break his next-door neighbour's window, help the girls through and run to the front door.
However, after putting the girls on the roof, he slipped and fell around 12ft to the ground, hitting his back on the middle of three concrete steps below.
"He looked up and he said, 'jump Lauren' and she jumped; he said, 'Naomi, jump' and she jumped; and he told Mari to jump but there was no sign of her," Ms Connolly said.
"He kept shouting 'Mari, jump, jump' but he thought Mari had come down the other side of the roof and fell," Ms Connolly said.
He told the two other girls to run as glass shards from the kitchen window exploded out on top of them.
The two girls ran up a nearby lane and a neighbour came and helped Mr Connolly to safety.
"After that, he says he just remembers the ambulance and everything coming," Ms Connolly said. "Mari was found in the house, so she climbed back and went into the house.
"From what I've heard she was found under the window.
"Everything in the house is left in ashes apart from one 'Dora' DVD, still intact, which was found under Mari, I know that," she added.
"He just kept saying 'if I hadn't fallen I would have saved her'. It could have worked. He was such a good father, he would have got the three of them in there safe," Ms Connolly said.
"I just want it to be known that Richard is a hero," she said.
Her mother and Mr Connolly's former partner, Teresa Kane, was in Sligo General Hospital yesterday to bring home the twins she gave birth to on Saturday, two days before the fire.
She has called them Ava Mari and Layla Mari in tribute to their sister, whose funeral will be held on Tuesday.