Belfast Telegraph

Ulster medics attacked while treating dying tot

Northern Ireland ambulance staff were assaulted while trying to save a dying toddler hit by a car, an inquest has heard.

Roma McAleese, aged three, was knocked down near her home at Ashdale Park, Coleraine, last year. Her inquest was heard in the town today.

When paramedic Heather Moore arrived with a colleague she was punched in the back by somebody who claimed she had not arrived soon enough, she told the inquest.

"She was punching for all she was worth," she said.

The injured three-year-old was taken into the ambulance but died in hospital.

Coroner John Leckey said: "What happened to you and your colleague (Sharon Robinson) was totally unwarranted, quite disgraceful.

"It is unacceptable that the emergency services seem to be attacked almost routinely. Instead of expressing gratitude for your arrival this physical assault happened."

The driver of the Volkswagen Golf involved in the March 2009 accident, Nicola Smyth, was left traumatised, the inquest heard. She did not attend the hearing and was never charged with any wrongdoing.

Senior scientific officer Damien Coll said the accident had happened in as little as one and a half seconds.

There was nothing to suggest Ms Smyth was breaking the 30 mph speed limit and a postal van may have obstructed her view, the expert added.

The car ran over the top of the child, the inquest heard.

The driver described to police what happened after she left her friend's house.

"The wee girl just seemed to appear out of nowhere. I slammed on my brakes and got out of the car but the body seemed to be rolling about," her statement said.

The girl's parents Gary and Andrea McAleese named their hairdressing business after their daughter and her sister Maya, 10, who has been seeing a child psychologist since the accident.

Mrs McAleese told the hearing: "Our lives have been destroyed without her."

Roma attended St Malachy's Nursery School and was due to go on to Millburn Primary School in Coleraine.

"She had a big sister who worshipped her. She was me and her daddy's world," Mrs McAleese added following the inquest.

A playhouse is being built at St Malachy's nursery named after Roma and a remembrance tree was planted at Millburn.

Mrs McAleese added: "The whole community at that time, we would not have gotten through this without the support from the people."

The coroner ruled that Roma died at the Causeway Hospital from head, neck and chest injuries sustained when she was knocked down while crossing the road by a car being driven within the speed limit.

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