A FORMER GAA star rushed a little boy with head injuries to hospital after being told there was no ambulance available.
Little Vakaris Martinaitis (2) died from head injuries 48 hours after he fell from an upstairs window in his home at Castleredmond, Midleton, Co Cork. An HSE investigation is underway to establish the circumstances surrounding the tragedy.
All-Ireland hurling winner Kevin Hennessy happened to be passing by the Martinaitis home on Monday afternoon when he saw the toddler's father tending to his stricken son.
Vakaris, whose parents, Aukse and Vidas, are both Lithuanian, was playing and apparently tumbled out of the upstairs window of his home in a housing estate on the outskirts of the east Cork town.
Mr Hennessy was driving home when he spotted Vidas desperately trying to help his son by the roadside.
The Lithuanian father of two had no transport as his wife was at work with the family car.
Mr Hennessy immediately rang the ambulance service for help. "I was told that there was no ambulance available in the area and was advised to get the child to a doctor as soon as possible," he told the Herald.
Mr Hennessy said he was told to bring the boy to a nearby out-of-hours GP service. He said that the toddler was conscious and crying at the time.
"I thought it was very serious. He had a graze over his left eye. He had another graze on his hairline, and the rest of his forehead was swelling."
Mr Hennessy, who has first-aid training, drove the little boy and his father to the SouthDoc GP cover service in Midleton but was advised to get him to Cork University Hospital (CUH) immediately.
"The little lad was crying and his father was very upset. He had very little English so I was doing most of the talking to the doctors. As we left SouthDoc his mother arrived and the father told her straightaway just to follow us to hospital," he said.
The former Midleton and Cork GAA star said traffic was "unusually heavy" for a bank holiday Monday. He called the gardai and was given a garda escort as he raced to CUH.
Mr Hennessy said it was "absolutely heartbreaking" to see the little boy crying and holding his mother's hand as he was treated in CUH.
He modestly insisted that he merely acted as any other concerned person would have done. "Anyone would have done the same. I just wish the outcome was different. It is desperately sad to see anyone die in these circumstances, let alone a child."
Vakaris died 48 hours later after having lost consciousness and slipped into a coma.
The heartbroken family were by the child's hospital bedside when he died on Wednesday and were today being comforted by friends at their home at Castleredmond on the Ballinacurra Road.
Vakaris's older sister is due to make her First Holy Communion in two weeks time.
Vakaris was be removed to Farrell's funeral home in Midleton this evening and will have his funeral service on Monday.