Teacher saved child from path of moving vehicle before fatal blow

Tributes paid to Dawn Croke who died in incident outside school in Dungloe

Dawn Croke died in a freak accident outside a school in Co Donegal. Photograph: Facebook

Dawn Croke died in a freak accident outside a school in Co Donegal. Photograph: Facebook


Tributes have been paid to a young teacher who was killed after saving a young girl from being hit by a moving vehicle on school grounds.

Mother of two Dawn Croke died instantly when she was struck by a jeep at St Crona’s National School in Dongloe at 6.30pm on Thursday night.

Ms Croke, who was in her early 30s, had been there with her partner Paddy McHugh and Mr McHugh’s six-year-old daughter.

Tragedy struck when Mr McHugh’s white Ford Ranger jeep which had been parked on the school grounds travelled forward in the direction of Ms Croke and the young girl.

It is understood the teacher managed to push the child away from the jeep but took the brunt of the impact herself.

The scene of the accident at St Crona’s National School, Dungloe. Photograph: North West newspix
The scene of the accident at St Crona’s National School, Dungloe. Photograph: North West newspix

Ms Croke died instantly and the child was rushed to Letterkenny University Hospital. She is being treated for a broken pelvis and a foot injury but she is expected to make a full recovery.

Garda forensic investigators were at the scene of the tragedy in the heart of the West Donegal town on Friday morning.

The investigation will centre on what caused the jeep to travel forward and strike Ms Croke and the young girl.

The tragedy has sent shockwaves through the local community of Dungloe and across the county of Donegal.

Ms Croke was a PE and resource teacher at the local Rosses Community School, where her father Tony also taught. The family are heavily involved in community activities and the local music scene.

Members of the Mary From Dungloe music festival and pageant paid tribute to Ms Croke who represented Dungloe in the competition in 2008, while Rosses Community School issued a statement offering their support to her family including her partner Patrick and her two sons Jason and Calum.

“Our school community wish to offer our sincerest condolences on the tragic death of our colleague and friend, Ms Dawn Croke,” the school said.

“We offer our condolences to her father and staff member Tony Croke, his wife Anne, our student Emily, past pupils Aaron, Ethan and Adam, her partner Patrick, and her sons Jason and Calum on the sad passing of our wonderful teacher and friend Ms Dawn Croke.

“Our school wish to send our love and support to the family, school and local community at this sad time.

“We, the school community, remember with love and fondness our colleague Dawn. We pray for the family and friends at this sad time.”

The school remained closed on Friday as a mark of respect to the family, and will remain closed on Monday when the funeral is due to take place.

Pat “the Cope” Gallagher, a friend of the Croke family, also expressed his sympathies.

“Dawn Croke was an exceptionally gifted individual with a massive personality and warmth that radiated from her on each occasion you met her,” Mr Gallagher said.

“I knew Dawn well, she is a member of a well-known and much respected Dungloe family. Just last month in December she visited me in Dáil Eireann with a class from Rosses Community School.

“She later brought the class to meet Brother Kevin Crowley and visit the homeless centre in Dublin to present a cheque of €1,000, which she and the class had successfully raised for the charity,” Gallagher said.

“I have spoken earlier today to brother, Kevin to convey news of the tragedy; he recalled her visit and was greatly saddened by the tragic news.

“She was dearly loved by her students and her work colleagues all of whom are devastated at the news of her untimely death.”

Her wake will take place at 10am on Saturday in her parents home on Quay Road, Dungloe. Her funeral will be held on Monday at 11am in St Crona’s Church, Dungloe with burial afterwards in Maghery cemetery.