Sunday 17 December 2017

Restaurateur Sallyanne Clarke tells of frantic bid to save son crushed by car

Restaurateurs Sallyanne and Derry Clarke
Restaurateurs Sallyanne and Derry Clarke
Andrew Clarke

Grainne Cunningham

RESTAURATEUR Sallyanne Clarke has described how she desperately tried to revive her 16-year-old son, Andrew, after finding him "cold and unconscious" in the garage of their home.

In a moving account, Mrs Clarke recalled the family's frantic attempts to save him and how paramedics managed to get a heartbeat in the ambulance.

She also told how she was "willing him to live all the while", and recalled how "once they got a heartbeat and moved him to ICU, we thought he had a fighting chance".

However, the injuries caused after the car Andrew was working on fell on him at his home in Saggart, Co Dublin, on Thursday proved too serious, and the promising young racing driver died on Monday.

The Clarke family last night issued a statement describing Andrew as "a wonderful, kind, very witty boy with a heart of gold" and a "larger-than-life, loveable rascal".

Andrew's father, Derry, his mother and sister, Sarah May (22), told how up to 30 of his worried schoolmates lined the corridor at Tallaght Hospital -- so many that they had to ask them to stop coming in.

"They were, like us, so very distraught, yet so young to have to deal with this," Mrs Clarke wrote in a moving account of her son's last days and a powerful tribute to "our baby boy".

Mrs Clarke wrote: "I found him about 1.40pm on Thursday, cold and unconscious by his car in the garage -- he'd bought a Volkswagen Jetta and was very busy fixing it up. We did CPR on him and in the ambulance they got a heartbeat."

She also said they had discussed everything as a family, even what would happen after death.

"Andrew always threw in his 10 cents' worth, even when we were discussing organ donation," said Mrs Clarke.

"Derry and I always said that if any of our organs would be of help to someone else when we died, then the kids were to donate them as they would be of no use to us any more.

"As a result, we donated Andrew's organs – he was so generous and so kind-hearted, we knew that he would have wanted that."

The family plan to say their final goodbye to Andrew in the school he loved so much, Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare.

His mother wrote: "We are bringing our baby Andrew home on Thursday (close family only) and we are removing him to his second home, Clongowes Wood College, for a service at 6.30pm (leaving home at 5pm) on Friday."

The funeral Mass will be at 11am on Saturday at the Boys' Chapel, with burial afterwards at Mount Jerome Cemetery, Harold's Cross.

In their statement, the Clarke family said car-obsessed Andrew was only months away from getting his driving licence.

"He was to do his theory test on Friday last, 28-12-12 at 12 noon in Naas. He couldn't wait to get his licence next March 26, which would have been his 17th birthday," they wrote.

Andrew was also due to fly to Birmingham on Friday week to collect his trophy for finishing third in the Irish Under-18 Junior Ginetta Car Racing Championships.

The family also spoke of what was to be their last Christmas together.

"We had a lovely Christmas and we were to go to Ashford Castle for New Year as usual. He loved New Year's Eve in particular," they wrote.


The Clarkes revealed how close Andrew was to them all.

"He boarded, but we saw him on Wednesdays, Saturdays and every Sunday. He had contact every day by call or text with Derry, Sallyanne and Sarah May – especially with his mum – always signing off 'luv u xxxxxxxxxxx'."

Although Andrew occasionally helped in the family-owned L'Ecrivain restaurant in Dublin "where all the team adored him", his first love was cars, and he had even asked his mother to buy him an industrial heater for "his" garage because he spent so much time in it.

When he died, he had his bag half-packed for returning to school.

The family statement concluded poignantly: "Andrew Dermott Parker Clarke – treasured and adored in life by us all. 26-03-1996 to 31-12-2012 (aged 16 years). May our Darling Baby Boy Rest In Peace Forever and Ever."

The Clarkes gave thanks to "all those who helped get us through this terrible time", giving particular mention to staff at Tallaght Hospital and the emergency crew from St James's and Tallaght fire station who helped get Andrew to hospital.

Irish Independent

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