Young cyclist (11) killed in collision with van in Tralee

Gardaí seeking witnesses as local community left heartbroken by death of Aoibheann Duffy

A technical examination of the scene is being conducted by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators, who will examine what factors may have led to the incident. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

A technical examination of the scene is being conducted by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators, who will examine what factors may have led to the incident. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

 

An 11-year-old girl has died after being knocked down by a van in a road traffic collision near Tralee, Co Kerry, on Monday evening.

The young girl was cycling a pedal bike when the collision happened outside Abbeydorney, near Tralee, at about 7.30pm.

The girl was taken to University Hospital Kerry in Tralee with serious injuries, but later died at the hospital.

The young girl has been named locally as Aoibheann Duffy, who was a 5th class pupil in Ardfert National School.

Aoibheann played football with Abbeydorney ladies Gaelic football club, and was a keen member of the club.

In a post on Facebook, the GAA club said on Monday night it had received the “sad news of the tragic death of one of our young club members”..

The club said all training on Tuesday was being cancelled as a mark of respect.

“We ask you to include her and her family in your prayers at this traumatic time for all. May her gentle soul rest in peace,” the club wrote.

The death follows another recent tragic bereavement in the extended family, where the young girl’s infant niece, Sofia Chloe Duffy Linnane, died suddenly last December.

The driver of the van, a man in his 50s, was also taken to the hospital, where he received treatment for his injuries.

It is believed the girl lived on a lane off the road near where the incident happened.

The road where the incident took place remains closed, while a technical examination of the scene is conducted by Garda forensic collision investigators. The investigators will seek to examine what factors may have led to the collision.

Local diversions were in place until the examination of the site finished.

Inquiries

Gardaí have also been conducting door-to-door inquiries for any witnesses and have sought CCTV footage from a company with an office near where the collision took place.

Pupils in Ardfert National School were to be provided with support from psychologists, in line with standard school critical incident guidelines.

Betty Stack, principal of Ardfert National School, said Aoibheann was “an active, outgoing, fun-loving girl who was always smiling, kind and considerate of others”.

“This is a terrible tragedy for Aoibheann’s family, our school and our community. We are deeply saddened by this event. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Aoibheann’s family and friends,” she said.

Aoibheann would “be greatly missed by all of us”, and teachers had been helping students in the school “to cope at this difficult time,” Ms Stack said.

“Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Service have been with us all day supporting and advising teachers in their efforts to assist our students at this time,” she said.

‘Heartbreaking’

Deirdre Ferris, a Sinn Féin councillor, said “the entire community will rally around the Duffy family.”

The “horrific” incident had affected two families, in what was “a very tight-knit community,” she said.

Cathal Foley, another local councillor, said the death of the young girl was “heartbreaking”.

“People are just waking up to it this morning. We had heard last night there had been a crash, but not that a child had been involved,” he said. “It’s a busy road, but it’s a narrow road... I’m a cyclist myself and it’s a bad road.”

Abbeydorney, near where the collision occurred, is a small area “where everyone knows each other”, he said.

Mikey Sheehy, a Fianna Fáil councillor said “the whole community is in shock, our thoughts are with the family at the moment”.

The Garda are seeking witnesses who may have seen the collision to come forward.

In particular, gardaí have appealed for any road users who were near Abbeydorney on the R556 between 7pm and 8pm on Monday, and who may have dash cam footage of the trip, to contact gardaí.

Anyone with any information has been asked to contact Tralee Garda station on 066-7102300, the Garda confidential line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.