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'She was our bright-eyed little girl': Father pays tribute at inquest of daughter (3)

Abigael Conlon was killed after she sustained serious injuries in a road crash in February 2018.

A THREE-YEAR-old child suffered catastrophic injuries in a road crash on her way to crèche, an inquest heard.

Abigael Conlon was strapped into car seat in the back seat of her father’s BMW when the crash occurred on the R413 at New Abbey Road in Co Kildare on 1 February 2018.

The force of the impact left Abigael with multiple traumatic injuries and she died three days later on 4 February.

Speaking after the inquest, her father Colm Conlon said the death of his first born was ‘truly a huge loss.’

“From the moment she came into our lives Abigael made a big impact. She was our bright-eyed little girl. She had a smile that would melt anyone’s heart,” he said.

He and Abigael left their home at Boleybeg, Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare to drive 6km to the crèche in Kilcullen that morning.

“We woke at 7.30am and Abigail picked out her clothes and opted to eat breakfast at the crèche. It was chilly. She hopped into the car and I connected her car seat belt,” Conlon said.

He was driving along the R413 at New Abbey Road between Brannockstown and Kilcullen when the collision occurred at 8.05am.

“I noticed a jeep in my lane approaching with speed. I had no time to respond,” Conlon said.

He was left dazed and seriously injured by the impact and described the pain as ‘excruciating.’

“When I realised that happened, I immediately thought of my daughter. She was lying down on her legs, her beautiful little face was looking at me,” he said.

“I said ‘No Abigael you can’t be gone, please God no’, but she was not breathing.”

Driver of the oncoming Volvo Jeep, Paul Gorry, said he lost control of his jeep on black ice as he rounded the bend. He was travelling at the speed limit, which was 80kmph, the inquest heard.

“I was trying to get my car back on my side of the road,” he said.

“The black ice was a complete surprise to me as the roads were fine up to then,” he said.

Witnesses who came upon the scene described slipping on ice as they attempted to help the occupants of the two vehicles.

Witness Dan Byrne saw Abigael injured in her car seat.

“She was slumped forward. She had a weak, dull pulse. We were whispering because we didn’t want the father to hear us,” he said.

Abigael was rushed to Temple Street Hospital where she died due to her injuries. The cause of death was brain damage due to injuries and trauma sustained in a road traffic accident.

Her father said he’d bought the car seat a few weeks previously and it was a particularly high quality model.

“We were hit so hard the seatbelts couldn’t hold Abigail. Her little body broke through the straps,” he said.

Garda Paul Monaghan, forensic collision investigator said speed could not be calculated due to the lack of brake marks at the scene.

“The main causation factor was the Volvo losing control on the icy surface and travelling into the path of the other vehicle,” he said.

Gardaí submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecution and no charges were brought.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended the speed limit be reduced to 60kph where the crash occurred. They jury recommended that road signs warning of black ice be erected in the area and that the council consider making improvements to the road to prevent future similar tragedies.

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Louise Roseingrave

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