Toddler in ‘miraculous escape’ from crash which kills her grandmother

A toddler had “a miraculous escape” from a crash which claimed the life of her grandmother on a notoriously dangerous section of road in North Cork.

A garda superintendent investigating the crash said he had no doubt survivor Faye O’Brien, 2, would have died if she had not been strapped into a child safety seat in the rear of the Peugeot hatchback driven by her grandmother.

The car struck a truck fully laden with grain.

Faye’s grandmother, Margaret Lees, 64, from Millbrook, Mallow was pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident happened at 10.10am on the main N72 Fermoy-Mallow road at Rea’s Cross, Killavullen.

Superintendent Pat McCarthy said that, on seeing the mangled wreckage of the car at the scene, he could not believe anybody could have got out alive.

“I have no doubt the little girl would have been killed only that she was fastened into the seat in the back of the car. If there was ever an advert for a child safety seat, this was it.”

He said the little girl received slight injuries but was obviously traumatised by what happened.

The lorry driver was not injured but was suffering from shock.

The road was closed for a number of hours as forensic collision investigators examined the scene.

Heavy-lifting equipment was tasked to the scene to remove the lorry, which is owned by a North Cork haulage company. Following the collision, the vehicle had careered off the road, lodging in a ditch.

The accident occurred opposite the home of Cork East TD Tom Barry, who said Mrs Lees was the eighth person to die in accidents on a one-mile stretch of the N72 near Killavullen in the past 10 years.

Mr Barry said he had repeatedly pleaded with the NRA to upgrade the N72, “which has 38 blind bends between Killavullen and Mallow”.

“The NRA is now in the process of upgrading the section of road around Rea’s Cross. But, unfortunately, the road improvements have come too late for this unfortunate lady.”

Transport Minister Leo Varadkar is due to meet Mr Barry and a Cork County Council delegation on May 23 to discuss the need for several road improvements in region.

“The entire N72 needs to be upgraded before anybody else is killed and, following this latest accident, I’m sure it will now become a very high priority issue,” said Mr Barry.

* Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to the accident to contact Fermoy Garda Station at 025 82100.


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