Frantic battle to save Cian as he choked on carrot

Brian McDonald & Alan O'Keeffe

A TODDLER who died at a creche is believed to have choked on a piece of carrot.

Little Cian Heneghan, who was almost two, got into difficulty at the Ballinderreen Childcare Centre in south Galway yesterday afternoon.

Cian, along with other toddlers, was having a snack of carrot sticks when a piece became lodged in his throat.

Staff rushed to his aid in the dining room. An ambulance was called and a member of staff, trained in CPR, attempted the emergency procedure.

The toddler was rushed to University Hospital in Galway, but despite sustained attempts at resuscitation, he was pronounced dead.

A parent, who did not wish to be identified, told today of arriving at the centre to collect his child within minutes of the tragedy.

"We saw a garda car and a couple of gardai at the centre," he said. "Parents guessed immediately that something was wrong. We learned that there had been an incident with a child, but everyone thought that he would be all right.

"Everybody is just so upset at what has happened. Our hearts go out to the parents and family of the little boy and also to the staff at the centre."

Cian's parents Darragh and Rebecca were away on a short break to Amsterdam, where they were given the news. They flew home last night. A local woman said the couple have one other child, a little boy, who was born in recent months. They had been coming to terms with the death of Darragh's mother recently and had decided to take a break in Holland.

Cian was being cared for in his parents' absence by his extended family. All were said to deeply traumatised by the child's death.

Staff at the community-run childcare centre were also said to be devastated. The facility caters for young children from babies to older children using it for afterschool care.

A spokesperson at the centre declined to comment, but a statement was expected to be issued later today.

Gardai at Gort said they were treating the incident as a tragic accident.