A priest spoke yesterday of how happy he had been to see two young brothers enjoying themselves running around in a Limerick hotel, minutes before one fell from a sixth-floor balcony.
Fr Patrick Seaver said the whole city is praying Neil Shanahan, aged two-and-a-half, will pull through.
The curate in St Munchin’s Parish said: “It’s a miracle he’s alive.”
As a Garda investigation into the incident at the four-star Strand Hotel continues, it emerged wicker garden furniture may have saved the toddler from instant death.
Neil is fighting for his life at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin following Saturday’s lunchtime incident.
His parents Tommy and Martina Shanahan were attending a Farranshone Residents Association coffee morning in the hotel with Neil and their youngest son. Neil strayed into a lift and got up to the sixth floor where he entered a balcony.
A guest on the patio area of the first-floor bar and restaurant saw the toddler appearing on the balcony and ran to raise the alarm. Within moments, he fell over 20m.
One source said: “If he struck the patio outdoor area he would have died instantly. But he seems to have hit the wicker chair and table garden-style furniture on the patio and was still alive when people got to where he was.”
A doctor, who was in the hotel, gave medical assistance within moments before ambulance crews arrived. The boy was rushed to University Hospital Limerick where he was treated before being transferred to Temple Street.
Neil is one of three children and the family live at Glenview Gardens, Farranshone.
Fr Seaver said he had been with the family moments before the incident. “They are a lovely family and great kids. We were all having a great morning at the hotel and Neil was playing with a young brother. And I was just saying to somebody how great it was to see children having the freedom to have great fun.
“I left and a short time after, I heard there was an accident, and didn’t realise how serious it was until later.
“It seems he got up to the sixth floor and got on to a table, and climbed onto the railing of a balcony.
“I understand from the child’s uncle he has got serious multiple injuries.
“It seems he came out of unconsciousness at the regional hospital and they had to sedate him.
“The news today is more hopeful. It’s a miracle he’s alive. Now we are praying.”
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