Thursday 22 August 2019

'Our hearts are broken' - Tributes pour in for schoolgirl (7) killed after being crushed by car

  • Car accidentally rolled back and pinned her against a garden gate
  • Despite the best efforts of relatives and medical staff, she passed away
Flowers and a candle at the scene of the accident and inset, Chantelle Keenan
Flowers and a candle at the scene of the accident and inset, Chantelle Keenan
Heartbreak: Gardaí investigate the driveway of a house in John Boyle-O’Reilly Terrace, Drogheda, where a seven-year old girl died. Photo: David Conachy

Ian Begley, Allison Bray and Elaine Keogh

Tributes have poured in for a seven-year-old girl who died after a car accidentally rolled over her in Co Louth yesterday.

Primary school student Chantelle Keenan was playing with a group of children yesterday afternoon in Drogheda when the tragedy unfolded.

Seven-year-old Chantelle Keenan, who was tragically killed yesterday
Seven-year-old Chantelle Keenan, who was tragically killed yesterday

It is understood the vehicle, which was parked in the driveway of a relative’s home in Boyle O'Reilly Terrace, suddenly rolled back crushing the schoolgirl against a gate.

Neighbours in Chantelle’s family home in Rath Lodge, Ashbourne, Co Meath expressed their shock at the sudden tragedy.

Flowers and a candle pictured at the scene where Chantelle Keenan was fatally injured by a car in the driveway Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Flowers and a candle pictured at the scene where Chantelle Keenan was fatally injured by a car in the driveway Picture Credit:Frank McGrath

“I can’t even begin to describe how upset I am at hearing this news,” said one local resident.

“I’ve often seen Chantelle playing outside with her two siblings; she seemed like such an outgoing and happy child.

“What happened is every parents worst nightmare. All anyone can do is offer their support and sympathies to her family.”

Heartbroken family members of the seven-year-old girl also took to Facebook to talk about their loss.

Flowers and a candle pictured at the scene Picture Credit:Frank McGrath
Flowers and a candle pictured at the scene Picture Credit:Frank McGrath

“I went In to see her in the hospital and I honestly haven’t stopped crying since,” said one relative.

“Poor child kicking and playing around in a paddling pool an hour before tragedy struck her… Why God? Why do this?

“Our hearts are broken. Please, I’m begging everybody to pray for my family. Poor Chantelle is gone but we still need your prayers.”

Another family member requested that people pray for Chantelle’s parents.

“Please pray for my nephew and niece John and Kathleen, who’s beautiful seven year old little girl died tragically today…

“They need strength, I just don’t know what we’re going to do,” she said.

Horrified relatives yesterday rushed the injured child inside the house.

An ambulance arrived from Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, which is just across the road, and she was brought to the emergency department.

However, despite the best efforts of medical staff, she was later pronounced dead.

It is understood the child is not from the area and had been staying with relatives.

Gardaí confirmed they are treating the death as a "tragic accident" and their investigations are continuing.

It is understood that a number of children were playing close to the car when it began to move.

A number of Garda forensic investigators remained at the house last night taking photos of the accident scene.

A grey Ford Focus with the driver's side window smashed in was parked in the driveway.

Evidence markers were placed on the driveway where shattered glass lay scattered on the ground.

The house and a neighbouring house were cordoned off during the investigation.

It is understood a neighbour next door to the house witnessed the tragedy and was deeply shocked.

According to another neighbour, who did not want to be identified, a number of children were near the parked car with the car doors open when it suddenly rolled backwards.

It is understood the little girl, who was standing behind the car, was pinned against a gate at the entrance to the driveway when the car rolled back.

"The (car) doors were open and must have hit the girl,'" he said.

"I heard someone screaming and saw someone (who was walking past) jump over the wall," he said,

"I knew something was happening."

He said he saw a man, believed to be a relative of the girl, scoop her up in his arms and take her inside the house before putting her into a car.

An ambulance arrived in just over a minute from the nearby hospital.

Another neighbour who lives on the same road said she was out gardening when the tragedy struck.

"What a tragic, tragic end to a Sunday," she said.

"I'm a mother of three and have three grandchildren myself.

"It's so sad and it was just the start of the summer holidays," she said.

According to neighbours, the little girl doesn't live at the house but may have been visiting relatives. The family had just recently moved into the rented house and was not known by local residents.

Meanwhile, a woman in her mid-20s has died and a family of four were injured following a two-car collision.

The woman died at the scene when the car she was driving collided with another car on the Lea Road in Portarlington, Co Laois, at around 8.20am yesterday.

The driver and three passengers of the other car were a mother, father and their adult son (22) and daughter (26). Their injuries are not understood to be life-threatening.

They were treated separately at the Midlands Regional and Tallaght University hospitals.

The name of the victim has not been released. However, it is understood that she is not from the area.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation. The road was closed for a time yesterday as Garda forensic examiners studied the scene.

Local Portarlington councillor Tom Mulhall (FG) said the road where the accident occurred is a straight stretch of road.

While the cause of the accident remains under investigation, he urged all drivers to be more cautious on the road, especially in rural areas.

"I'd like to see people slowing down, especially on rural roads," he told he Irish Independent last night.

He also expressed his condolences to the family of the young woman who was killed as well as the injured family.

"It's terrible to see a young life taken like that," he said.

Gardaí appealed for any witnesses to contact them in Portlaoise on 057 7864100.

Irish Independent

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