Tragedy as girl (10) dies after her flight diverted to Shannon
A 10-year-old girl died on a flight over the North Atlantic despite the best efforts of medics on board, and a mercy dash by the crew to the nearest airport, which was Shannon.
The child was travelling on board Air Canada flight AC-868 on Christmas Eve. It was a scheduled service from Toronto, Canada, to Heathrow Airport in London.
The Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner jet, with 238 passengers and crew on board, was just 90 minutes from its destination when the crew declared a medical emergency and advised air traffic controllers they needed to divert and land.
The crew reported they had a young girl on board who was "unresponsive". A doctor and a nurse who were also travelling on the flight began CPR.
An ambulance and rapid-response advanced paramedic unit from Ennis were sent to Shannon Airport. Two units of the local authority fire service from Shannon town were also requested to provide additional personnel to assist.
Shannon Airport's own emergency first responders were also waiting at the terminal for the aircraft when it landed at 7.40pm.
National Ambulance Service paramedics quickly boarded the aircraft and began efforts to resuscitate the gravely ill child.
Paramedics worked on the girl in one of the aircraft's aisles, but despite their best efforts, the child was pronounced dead at the scene.
She was later removed to University Hospital Limerick for a post-mortem examination.
A Garda spokesman confirmed that the county coroner was informed of the tragedy. The flight continued its journey to London at 9.20pm.
It's understood that the girl, who was a Canadian citizen, was travelling with three older sisters who were cared for in a Limerick city hotel.
An airline spokesman said: "We are deeply saddened by this situation and we are doing all we can to assist the family in these tragic circumstances."
One emergency worker said: "Everything that could have been done in the air and on the ground was done for this poor girl. Between the National Ambulance Service and Shannon Fire Brigade, we had all the personnel we needed to ensure continuity of CPR all the way to the hospital. In the end, we weren't all needed unfortunately. It's an awful tragedy, especially on the night that was in it."
Separately, a US-bound passenger flight turned around over the Atlantic in the early hours of yesterday and diverted to Shannon Airport with a seriously ill woman.
The Israeli airline flight was travelling from Tel Aviv to Boston in the US at the time.
The flight landed shortly after 5am and was met by airport staff and National Ambulance Service paramedics.