herald

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Mother of blaze survivor Biddy has pneumonia

Seriously ill survivor Biddy O'Brien
Seriously ill survivor Biddy O'Brien

The family of the only survivor of the Clondalkin fire that claimed the lives of a pregnant mother and three children have been plunged into further turmoil.

Seriously ill survivor Biddy O'Brien's mother, Bridget, collapsed and had to be taken to hospital after developing pneumonia.

Ms O'Brien continues to cling to life in St James's Hospital after suffering extensive burns.

More than a week after the blaze that broke out in her first floor apartment, she remains unconscious.

She is unaware that her two children, Jordan (4) and three-year-old Holly are dead.

Her cousin, Annmarie (27), who was seven months pregnant, and Annmarie's two-year-old daughter, Paris, also died.

Collapsed

The Herald has learned that Bridget collapsed during a visit to her doctor.

"The fire, the loss of her grandchildren and Biddy's injuries have been a tremendous strain for her," said a family friend.

"She is being looked after by the doctors now. She has pneumonia and will be in hospital for a while. It's all just been too much for her."

Meanwhile, Biddy's heartbroken husband, Jamie Sommers, is spending every waking moment by her bedside.

"The doctors say there's a slight improvement in her condition, but she has a long, long road ahead of her. Both Jamie and Biddy have a long road to travel," said the friend.

"Biddy was knocked unconscious by the smoke and suffered extensive burns.

"She still knows nothing about what happened, and the family are dreading the day they tell her.

"They have to take things one day at a time."

Separately, a spokesman for the Bray Travellers Community Development Group said counselling facilities and professional help have been organised for the families and those affected by last week's tragedy.

Specialists

"We have professional people, counsellors and bereavement specialists, both from within the Traveller Counselling Service and through the HSE, who are available to help if and when required," said Jim O'Brien, who is also a cousin of victim Annmarie.

"It's one of the important things we learned from the Carrickmines tragedy, and the services were certainly a great help to the Lynch and Gilbert families, who lost family members in that fire in 2015."

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