A NINE-YEAR-OLD girl is in intensive care this morning after being hit by a train as it left a station.
The girl, named locally as Mary Ryan, was rushed to hospital after she wandered onto the tracks on the outskirts of Tipperary town shortly after 7pm yesterday.
It is understood the little girl was on her own at the time, and may have got onto the line after climbing over a back garden wall of her nearby home or by accessing the track by the gates of the nearby level crossing on Station Road.
The 6.50pm train was travelling from Limerick Junction to Waterford city when the driver spotted the girl on the tracks ahead of him near the level crossing with Station Road.
He desperately tried to stop the train and successfully managed to bring it to a halt, but not before the girl was hit.
It is understood she did not fall under the train but was knocked clear of the wheels but still suffered injuries in the impact. The emergency services raced to the scene and the girl, who was conscious, was rushed to Clonmel General Hospital.
Local sources said that Mary is making a good recovery in hospital but is being kept in intensive care due to her age.
"I'm told there's no broken bones and she's had scans and everything, but she is being kept in until the risk of swelling and things passes," said one local neighbour.
"It must have been an awful fright for everyone, Mary, her family, and the train driver," the neighbour said.
"The train was leaving the station at the time and was only going slowly when Mary was hit, but it could obviously have been a tragedy all the same," they added. Mary lives near the station with her mother Breda and four siblings, according to locals.
The track remained closed until around 11pm as preliminary investigations got underway into the incident.
Three separate investigations will now be carried out by the gardai, Iarnrod Eireann and the Rail Accident Investigation Unit.
One fact they will have to establish is how the girl got onto the tracks.
Also forming part of the investigation will be the speed the train was doing, and whether barriers at the nearby level crossing were operating properly.