Belfast Telegraph

Family rallies round parents of infant who died after being left in car

By Ralph Riegel

Family, friends, neighbours and workmates are trying to comfort a devastated Tipperary couple who lost their baby daughter in a tragedy described as every parent's worst nightmare.

A post-mortem examination has been conducted at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) on seven-month-old Chloe Fogarty who was discovered unresponsive in a parked car in Dundrum, Co Tipperary, shortly after 1pm last Thursday - the hottest day of the year.

The examination by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy is understood to indicate that Chloe's death was consistent with the effects of over-heating or heat-stroke.

It is feared the child may have been in the car, parked not far from where her father, Paul, worked at O'Dwyer Steel, for between four and five hours.

She was discovered by her horrified father shortly after 1pm. Chloe had been scheduled to be dropped off at a local creche at 8.30am.

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

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

A local GP and paramedics attended the scene. Chloe was taken to UHL by air ambulance. The helicopter took off from Kickhams GAA pitch - where her father had often played for his club, Golden-Kilfeacle.

Despite desperate efforts by doctors to stabilise her condition, Chloe was pronounced dead at 5pm.

Chloe will now rest in repose at her family home in Tipperary town from 5pm-7pm today. Her Mass of the Angels will be held tomorrow at 11.30am in the Church of St Nicholas in Solohead.

Kilfeacle parish priest, Fr Pat Coffey, said the community was left totally devastated by the tragedy. "It is just a case of being shell-shocked. Everybody is feeling for the family," he said.

One Tipperary town man who knows the young couple said that they were "absolutely inconsolable".

"They are the nicest people you could hope to meet. It's a dreadful thing to happen to them," he said. "Everyone here is heartbroken. The whole town is shocked by it."

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

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

Chloe and her family were prayed for at all Masses in Tipperary town, Golden-Kilfeacle and Dundrum.

Mr Fogarty's workmates laid flowers, a cuddly toy and candles in the car park in front of the steel plant, just metres from where Chloe was discovered, in memory of the little girl. Several fought back tears as they prayed for the infant.

Chloe was born last October, the first child for Paul and Louise who had married two years ago. Louise is from Tipperary town while Paul is from Golden-Kilfeacle. They live in Tipperary town and plan to build their dream home in Kilfeacle.

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

Gardai are treating the incident as "a terrible tragedy". They stressed that their inquiry will be handled in a very sensitive manner given the tragic circumstances.

A file will be prepared for the coroner's office. However, an inquest into Chloe's death will not be heard before next year. It is unclear whether it will be heard in Tipperary or Limerick. The main theory being examined is that Chloe died from suspected heat-stroke.

While temperatures reached a maximum of 22 degrees in Tipperary last Thursday, experts warned that the temperature inside parked vehicles, particularly those exposed to direct sunlight, could be much higher.

Clothing and other factors can result in a person's body temperature soaring to dangerous levels.

Children and the elderly are most vulnerable to the effects of over-heating.

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