We've lost two angels, say family of blaze girl and dad
A FATHER who lost his life in a fire had gone back in to rescue his little girl after first lowering his wife to safety from an upstairs bedroom.
Five-year-old Nadine O'Brien and her father Anthony (29) perished in the blaze that gutted their home at Killeen Heights, Tralee, Co Kerry, in May 2012.
Both died from carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation, the jury at the inquest into their deaths found.
The ingestion of sedative drugs was a contributory factor in Mr O'Brien's death.
The inquest also heard yesterday that the fire alarm in the house was not working at the time, prompting the jury to bring in a "rider" about the importance of checking that fire alarms were working.
Nadine's aunt Sabrina O'Brien said the family had lost "two angels" and thanked the gardai, the emergency services and the hospital staff for their efforts. Nadine's mother, Kelly O'Brien, said she regretted leaving her daughter out of her arms when she was woken by thick smoke in her bedroom in the early hours of Saturday morning, May 12, last year.
In her deposition, which was read out at the coroner's court, she described how Nadine used to sleep in her parents' bed at the weekend and she was lying between them when Mrs Kelly was woken by smoke and the smell of burning.
She revealed she and her husband had both taken a sleeping tablet shortly before going to sleep. Her husband opened the bedroom door but thick smoke rushed into the room. She said he told her and Nadine, who were both coughing, not to move while he tried to break the window of the box room.
He returned shortly afterwards saying they were trapped. He took Nadine from her mother as he looked for an escape.
"I should have kept her in my arms but I was drifting in and out of sleep," she said.
She said she could not see her husband or daughter but she knew if she could feel her way to exercise equipment in the bedroom she would know she was near the window.
She managed to make her way out on to a ledge and said Anthony put Nadine's head outside so that she could get air.
"I was hesitant because it was so high but he held on to my hand and told me not to worry that he would hand me down and then hand Nadine down to me.
"He had me down about half way when he looked around and said the child is gone," she said. Mrs Kelly told her husband to let go of her and she saw him climb back in the window, telling her he'd be back in five minutes with the child. Sustaining a serious leg injury, she crawled next door screaming for help.
Fire fighters later recovered Nadine's body near a bench press after they had taken her father from the house. They were both pronounced dead at Kerry General Hospital later that morning.