THE female driver at the wheel of an out-of-control car that knocked down a young Irish girl in New York has said her vehicle was malfunctioning at the time of the tragic accident.
Kalie Gill (15), who had recently emigrated to the US with her family, was killed just over a week ago when she and her sister Lindsey (12) were run over by a car while attending a church carnival.
The vehicle was driven by schoolteacher Roseanne Piccirilli in Yonkers.
And she has claimed the vehicle's foot brake was malfunctioning as she desperately tried to control the car.
Speaking on TV in the US, local priest Fr James Healy, who spoke with Ms Piccirilli (55) after the freak crash, said: "She said the car wouldn't obey when she was putting her foot on the brake.
"She said it felt like she was putting her foot on the accelerator."
Detective Lieutenant Patrick McCormack, public information officer for the City of Yonkers Police, described their probe as "an open accident investigation at this time" and indicated it would be unlikely that Ms Piccirili would face criminal charges.
He told the US-based Irish Voice newspaper: "We did not charge anyone. The investigation has to progress and that could take weeks. The vehicle involved now needs to be inspected. There is no reason at this time to believe that the driver will be charged with anything criminal."
"We would categorise it right now as an open accident investigation."
Meanwhile, Lindsey Gill (12) – the sister who survived the crash – has still not been told her beloved sibling was killed in the same accident.
Her parents, Damien and Karen, originally from Fenagh, Co Leitrim, have been keeping a vigil at Lindsey's hospital bedside ever since.
But the grief-stricken family, who have deferred memorial arrangements for Kalie, have said they have yet to break the news to Lindsey that her sister and "best friend" was killed in the crash.
Last Tuesday, Lindsey underwent surgery at Jacobi Medical Center to repair a broken femur, while more operations are scheduled in the coming days.
But her father, Damien, said his daughter was expected to eventually make a full recovery.
He said: "She's a tough one. She's a fighter. She has a lot of broken bones. She has been under sedation and has been in pain."
But he said both he and Karen, who have another daughter, Jamie (21), had decided not not to break the dreaded news of Kalie's death to Lindsey until they felt she was well enough to be told.
Damien has also stressed he bears no animosity towards the driver, adding: "They don't know what happened, but I feel very sorry for her. It's something she'll have to live with, too."
During the fatal crash, the Jeep is also understood to have struck five other vehicles, three of which were occupied, as well as causing minor injuries to two other 13-year-old girls.