Belfast Telegraph

Community unites behind devastated parents of little Chloe

By Ralph Reigel and Ian Begley

Gardai fear temperatures may have soared to more than 27 degrees inside a parked car where a seven-month-old baby girl was sleeping on the hottest day of the year.

Little Chloe Fogarty is believed to have been in the parked car for between four and five hours before she was discovered unresponsive by her horrified father, Paul, shortly before 1pm on Thursday.

Mr Fogarty, who works in O'Dwyer Steel in Tipperary, is understood to have been distracted by a phone call and didn't realise his little girl was still in the parked car.

She had been due to be dropped off at a creche outside Tipperary town around 8.30am.

Chloe's mother, Louise, had only recently returned to work from maternity leave - and it is understood their new creche arrangements had been in place for only a matter of days.

The car in which Chloe was sleeping is believed to have been unattended for a number of hours.

Chloe died at 5pm on Thursday, shortly after being transferred by air ambulance from Dundrum, Co Tipperary, to University Hospital Limerick (UHL), despite desperate efforts by doctors to save her.

She died with her father and mother by her hospital bedside.

Kilfeacle parish priest Fr Pat Coffey said the community was left reeling by the tragedy.

"It is just a case of being shell-shocked," he said.

"Everybody is feeling for the family."

More than 40 colleagues from O'Dwyer Steel laid flowers, a candle and a panda teddy in the plant car park, just metres from where Chloe was discovered unresponsive on Thursday.

For 15 minutes, they prayed and fought back tears in memory of their colleague's little girl.

In a moving tribute, a bouquet carried the simple message: "Our thoughts are with you, from staff at O'Dwyer Steel."

The impromptu service took place after noon - almost exactly 24 hours from the time little Chloe was discovered the previous day.

Louise Fogarty, nee McInerney, is from Tipperary town while her husband is from the parish of Golden-Kilfeacle. The couple married less than two years ago.

Chloe, who was born last October, was their only child.

They live in a rented property in Tipperary town as they planned to build their dream home in Kilfeacle.

The Fogarty and McInerney families yesterday appealed for privacy as they struggled to come to terms with what one neighbour described as "a total nightmare".

Mr Fogarty is a keen GAA player, with Golden-Kilfeacle, and played club matches at Kickham's GAA pitch, from where his little girl was transferred by air ambulance to UHL.

Mr Fogarty's parents, Joe and Mae, are very well known in sporting circles in Tipperary, being involved in both GAA and horse racing.

Gardai are investigating Thursday's incident, which is being treated by Tipperary officers as "a terrible tragedy".

It is suspected that Chloe died from heat stroke.

A post-mortem examination will be carried out this morning at University Hospital Limerick by the State pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy.

Gardai are liaising with the baby's family, but are unlikely to conduct detailed interviews with the parents until after the funeral.

In the meantime, officers are continuing with other strands of their investigation into what they called "a very sensitive case".

A file will be prepared for the coroner's office. However, an inquest will not take place until next year.

Councillor Michael Fitzgerald, who knows Mr Fogarty, said everyone was heartbroken.

"It is absolute devastation in the community.

"It is very, very hard - it is at times like these that a community kicks in and you would see how people support their friends and neighbours without interfering.

"People like to be able to do whatever can be done," he commented.

Chloe's Mass of the Angels will be held on Monday at 11.30am in the Church of St Nicholas in Solohead.

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