Girl died in 50mph bike tragedy
10-year-old gathered speed on steep hill and lost control
A 10-year-old girl who died from head injuries in a freak accident may have reached a speed of 50mph going downhill on her mountain bike.
The revelation came as an inquest yesterday recorded a verdict of accidental death of Mary Connors (10).
Mary, of Carbery, Co Kildare, sustained horrific multiple skull fractures when she apparently lost control of the mountain bike she was riding on September 2, 2007, during a holiday in Cork.
Mary was rushed to Cork University Hospital where she remained on a life-support machine for 11 days. She died on September 13 without having regained consciousness.
The little girl had been on a holiday with her aunt and uncle at their home in Whitechurch.
Shortly after 2pm on Sunday, September 2, she went for a spin on a new mountain bike and cycled down the Old Whitechurch Road in Cork towards Garvey's Bridge and the Red Forge Road junction.
Cork Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane was told by gardai that the distance involved is 270 metres, all down a steep hill.
The inquest was told that, if Mary freewheeled, she would have reached a speed of almost 50 mph (77kmh) , making it difficult for her to brake or control the bike.
Two motorists stopped at traffic lights by the Red Forge Road junction told the inquest they saw a little girl on a red bike flash across the road, strike the kerb and being catapulted face-first into a stone wall.
The child then collapsed on top of the bike.
Mary was not wearing a safety helmet, and the accident occurred so fast she didn't even have time to raise her hands to protect her head and face.
Motorists Tony Ahern and Martin Dunne said they immediately tried to comfort and help the little girl, but she was unconscious with blood pouring from her nose and head.
The inquest heard that the bicycle had been purchased only the previous month and was in perfect working order.
The inquest also heard that gardai could find no evidence that Mary had attempted to brake coming down the steep hill.
It was likely the child gathered too much speed by which time it was too late to either brake or control the bike as it approached the junction.
One witness said he saw the handlebars of the mountain bike shaking with the combined effect of high speed and the child's attempts to turn.
Assistant State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, found in a post mortem examination that the child had suffered multiple skull fractures and had died from brain swelling and trauma.
Dr Cullinane recorded a verdict of accidental death and described it as an appalling tragedy for her entire family.