The mother of a 23-month-old toddler killed in a Co Down road accident has been left “paralysed by shock”, a neighbour said.
The little girl’s family are understood to have made frantic efforts to pull her from the path of a 4x4 vehicle after she wandered on to a busy road on Saturday.
The tot is understood to have been injured after she left a garden where she had been playing and was struck down on the Blackstaff Road, Clough, at around 5.15pm.
The victim’s family requested privacy from the media yesterday but neighbours said the girl had been visiting family in the area with her mother in recent days.
It is understood the child had been enjoying the afternoon sunshine in the front garden of the house situated on the road.
She is said to have made a dash from the garden and despite the best efforts of her aunt was knocked down by a passing vehicle just yards from the property.
Police said a woman was treated in hospital for a suspected broken arm and whiplash injuries.
The driver of the vehicle was also treated for shock and whiplash injuries.
One neighbour spoke with the child’s mother — thought to be from the Bangor area — a short time after the accident and described her as being “paralysed by shock”.
The little girl was due to celebrate her second birthday this week, she said.
South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie offered her condolences to the child’s family.
“I want to convey my sympathies to the child’s parents and also to the lady injured and the driver of the 4x4,” she said.
“It is a very, very difficult situation for all concerned. To lose a child so young must be extremely difficult. The thoughts and prayers of the people of south Down are with the family at this time.”
SDLP councillor Patsy Toman said the girl's death was a “terrible tragedy” that had stunned a small community.
“The people here in Ballykinler and the Clough area are completely stunned,” he said.
Father Gerard Patton of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dundrum — three miles from Clough — said the community was “stunned and numbed” by the tragedy. “Everyone is in a state of shock,” he said. “It is a tight-knit community and people are stunned and numbed by what has happened this little child.
“It is a tragedy for everyone involved and prayers were said for the family at Mass this morning.
“There is a great deal of sadness.”
Roads Minister Edwin Poots said he was saddened by news of the tragedy.
“Any death on our roads is distressing, but the death of a child, especially one so young, is even more difficult to comprehend. It reminds us all of how dangerous our roads can be,” he said.
“As the summer holidays approach I ask all road users to be aware of the dangers on our roads and to take extra care.”
Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collision and have appealed for information.
Meanwhile, a man in his 60s was also killed in a road crash in Co Down at the weekend.
The accident happened on the Moyallen Road, Gilford, at about 1.20pm on Saturday.
A spokeswoman for the PSNI said they were investigating the possibilty that he took ill at the wheel before the two-vehicle smash.
No details about the deceased have been released.
Village is stunned by awful tragedy
The pristine front lawn of a neat Co Down home was bathed in glorious sunshine yesterday with a child’s swimming pool, swings and toys strewn across the garden.
Situated in the shadow of the Mourne Mountains, the idyllic scene masked the heart-wrenching tragedy which occurred just yards from the detached property less than 24 hours previously.
It is understood the toddler killed on the Blackstaff Road, Clough, on Saturday evening had been staying at the property with her mother and other family members prior to the accident.
Two small teddy bears and flowers marked the spot where the youngster was struck after apparently running onto the road while playing in that sun-splashed garden.
Despite the frantic efforts of family members, the tiny girl could not be pulled to safety in time.
Another woman — said to be her aunt — escaped with her life when as she tried in vain to rescue her, sustaining a broken arm in the process.
Yesterday, residents of the |village close to Newcastle were still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
Clough — usually a hive of activity — was silent.
The main street was empty throughout the afternoon and people stood in quiet contemplation at the scene of the crash.
As they did the dangers of the winding road were obvious.
Those making their way to and from the area by foot were forced to jump onto narrow verges as cars suddenly appeared around the road’s many blind bends.