Sunday 15 September 2019

'Fly high, angel': grieving community mourns 'kind girl' lost in cycling tragedy

Gardaí at the scene of the collision in which Bridget Ward died. Photos: Damien Eagers
Gardaí at the scene of the collision in which Bridget Ward died. Photos: Damien Eagers
Flowers left at the roadside. Photos: Damien Eagers
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Bridget Ward (11), who died in a road tragedy while cycling with her little brother on Easter Sunday, has been described as "kind, talented and wonderful".

The outpouring of grief was far-reaching as family members, friends and the Travelling community mourned the loss of the schoolgirl and prayed for the recovery of her eight-year-old brother Patrick.

Bridget was riding her bike with her younger brother near Ballinasloe, Co Galway, when the collision occurred.

Fr Bernard Costello, who was yesterday with the family, said Patrick was "doing well, he's going to be OK".

Bridget, a pupil at Eglish Primary School in Ahascragh, Ballinasloe, was described by management at the school as a "kind, talented, wonderful girl" who would "always hold a special place in our hearts".

The funeral is likely to take place in Ahascragh where a huge turnout is expected.

Eglish Primary School posted a tribute online stating: "Our school community is deeply saddened by the news of the tragic death of our student, classmate and friend, Bridget.

"A kind, talented and wonderful girl in so many ways, she will always hold a special place in our hearts.

"May her gentle soul rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family on this sad day and we pray for a full and speedy recovery for her brother, Paddy."

Hundreds more tributes were posted online in memory of the schoolgirl.

One friend wrote on Facebook: "RIP Bridget... My heart is breaking for your family. Look over your mommy, daddy and brothers and sisters at this sad time. RIP Bridget, fly high angel."

Another post read: "RIP. It's heartbreaking, a beautiful little girl, may God give them [the family] the strength to cope with their loss."

Bridget and Patrick were cycling close to the halting site where they were living when the collision took place.

The schoolgirl was taken to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe where she was pronounced dead.

Her brother suffered serious injuries, but these are not believed to be life-threatening.

Local Fine Gael councillor Michael Finnerty said: "One small ray of light today is that little Patrick is recovering well in hospital. Maybe a small bit of light can come out of this tragedy today."

He thanked the emergency services for rushing to the scene on Easter Sunday.

"This was Easter Sunday morning and everyone was going about their business and as soon as the first responders got the call, their response was wonderful," he said.

"The guards, civil defence, paramedics and fire service were all there on the scene within minutes.

"It's little comfort to the family, I'm sure, but we are grateful as a community for such rapid response to this tragedy and that the little boy is doing well in hospital.

"We are all thinking of the family."

Flowers were laid at the roadside yesterday where the collision happened.

The Garda investigation is continuing. Investigators appealed for any witnesses to the collision on the R358 Ballinasloe to Ahascragh road about 11.55am on Sunday to contact Ballinasloe gardaí on 0909 631890.

Irish Independent

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