herald

Thursday 24 August 2017

'Abbie was his pride and joy' - hero dad (60) dies saving girl from crash

Hero dad Martin Finn
Hero dad Martin Finn

A tragic Dublin grandfather has been hailed as a hero after pushing his only daughter to one side and saving her life when they were both struck by an SUV in a horror accident.

Martin Finn (60), from Gurteen Avenue in Ballyfermot, was walking along the Newcastle Road in west Dublin with his daughter Abbie (18) on Tuesday night when they were struck from behind by the vehicle.

The pair had been feeding their horses in a nearby field and were making their way back to Martin's wife Carol who was parked nearby when tragedy struck.

Heartbroken

Abbie - Martin and Carol's only child - was seriously injured and is recovering in the Mater hospital.

The young mum gave birth to her son Arthur - Martin's only grandchild - just three months ago.

His heartbroken wife, who is a cousin of Irish soccer legend Paul McGrath, said breaking the news to Abbie was very difficult.

"She has broken bones in her neck and is in a special brace to stop her moving her head, but she could have been killed," Carol told the Herald.

"I had to break the news to her on Wednesday night that her daddy was dead, and she said the last thing she remembers is him pushing her to the side," she added.

Carol recalled the sequence of events that led to the tragedy.

"I dropped them up to feed the horses and then parked the car and waited," she said.

"Martin rang me from the field and asked where I parked and I told him. Then Abbie texted me to say they were on the way.

"Then somebody came up to the car and asked was I waiting for two people.

"I said I was and she said 'there's after being an accident up the road'. I just ran up and saw Martin on one side of the road and Abbie on the other.

"Then the gardai and the ambulances arrived. They were working on Martin for around 20 minutes, but I had an awful feeling he was gone. I could see the ambulance lads doing CPR on him for ages.

"They were keeping me back so they could work on them, but everyone was very good, I can't praise them enough," she added.

"I had Abbie's little baby Arthur with me. He's only three months old, and someone minded him for me.

"We went to Tallaght Hospital after the ambulances and then Abbie was transferred to the Mater. The nurses took me into a family room and then I knew Martin was dead. They didn't have to tell me."

Abbie has since posted a poignant photograph on Facebook of her dad walking a horse into the sunset.

A message under it reads: "Rest in peace daddy. Love you so much. Love, your little girl". The message is then followed by a line of broken heart emojis.

"Martin adored her. They went everywhere together. Abbie is our only child," Carol said.

She described Martin as a quiet man with a gentle spirit.

"He never had a bad word to say about anyone. When it came to Abbie, she was his pride and joy," she added.

"I've known Martin around 20 years. He was only talking about getting new horse-riding gear for Abbie since she had Arthur and started riding the horse again.

"We don't know if her injury will mean she will ever ride a horse again."

It is not yet known how long Abbie will remain in hospital but Carol said she "has a long road of recovery ahead".

Shaking

The broken-hearted mother described her husband's death and her daughter's injury as a tragic accident.

"The poor driver of the SUV was shaking. It could have been any of us driving the car. We want him to know that it was an accident," she said.

The driver, who had been on his way home from a local shop, was treated for shock at the scene.

The road where Martin and Abbie were walking has no footpath or street lights, and Carol wants to send a message to people to make themselves visible when they are walking in the dark.

"They were wearing dark clothes. Martin had a head torch facing forward but they were hit from behind," she said.

"I would urge people to wear high-vis clothing and reflectors and lights if they are out at night."

Martin worked as a forklift driver and was a big Man United fan.

"He worked hard all his life. He was a great man," Carol said.

She is being comforted at home by her close-knit family, neighbours and friends.

Martin's funeral is expected to take place early next week.

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