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Monday 11 December 2017

'All I want to do is hold my beautiful little girl' - mother of tragic farm accident victim

DEVASTATED: Heartbroken parents tell David Raleigh of their unimaginable grief over losing wonderful daughter Paula (8)

Paula Dinsberga, (8), who was killed in a tragic farm accident on Sunday night in Newtownshandrum, Cork
Picture: Press 22
Paula Dinsberga, (8), who was killed in a tragic farm accident on Sunday night in Newtownshandrum, Cork Picture: Press 22

The mother of a girl killed in a tragic farm accident has said all she wants to do is hold her daughter.

Paula Dinsberga (8) died in a farm accident while playing with a friend on Sunday.

Her heartbroken mother, Linda, described her beloved daughter to the Herald as a "bright, intelligent, popular girl".

"People are asking me what do I need. All I want to do is just see my daughter," Linda said wiping tears from her eyes.

There were heartbreaking scenes at the Dinsberga home in Limerick yesterday as shocked friends and relatives called to offer their condolences.

The deceased girl's parents, who had earlier attended a relative's wedding in their native Latvia, landed at Dublin Airport at midnight yesterday oblivious that their daughter had passed away six hours previously on Sunday. The distraught couple were met off the plane by Mallow gardai, who delivered the awful news.

RIBBON

While her parents were away, little Paula had been staying with family friends, who run a rented farm at Rusheen, Newtownshandrum, outside Charleville, Co Cork.

According to gardai, Paula and a friend, named locally as Kerija Pliesnanis (11), ran in front of a tractor being driven by the older girl's father Edgar.

Gardai said Mr Pliesnanis slammed on the brakes of the tractor after both girls, who were playing nearby, ran across his path.

The two girls were crushed under the weight of a front loader which fell off the tractor, pinning them both to the ground.

At her home in Dooradoyle, Limerick, Linda Dinsberga and husband Raivo cradled each other as they tried to come to terms with their sudden loss.

They placed a picture of their daughter, with a black ribbon, beside a lit candle in their kitchen where relatives and friends came to offer their prayers and to pay their respects.

Clutching her daughter's photograph, Mrs Dinsberga said: "She was bright, she was so smart, and she had loads of friends. She was so beautiful."

The heartbroken parents said all they wanted to do was travel to Cork to see their daughter.

They were waiting last night for a post mortem to be carried out at Cork University Hospital.

"We just flew home last night. I can't believe it, oh God. I just want to see her but I can't," Mrs Dinsberga said.

"We are waiting for [gardai] to call us and [then] we can go and see her. Everybody asks what I need, but I just want to hold my daughter. We have three more children. [Paula] was the oldest. We have two boys and a smaller girl."

Mr Dinsberga added: "The gardai were waiting for us [at the airport] to tell us. It is just unbelievable."

According to gardai, the deceased was killed instantly.

Kerija was airlifted to Cork University Hospital (CUH), where she remains in a critical but stable condition.

VIGIL

Her family were keeping a vigil at her bedside, hoping she would pull through. It's believed she sustained serious head and chest injuries.

The farming community of Newtownshandrum was plunged into grief as word spread of what had occurred with their Latvian neighbours.

Neighbours said the family, who had moved to the area approximately a year ago, were "hard-working quiet people" who "kept to themselves".

Retired Canon Michael Harrington of Charleville was called out to the tragic scene last evening to pray over the girls. He described arriving at the scene as one of the "blackest nights" ever.

"There was a very great presence of the gardai and the paramedics there, and I would say their handling of the situation was exemplary.

"It was excellent in every possible way including their help in taking me out there," Fr Harrington said.

"There was a little girl and she was dead. I gave her the last rites in so far as I could. The injured girl was [still] there in the field. I carried out whatever services I could," he explained.

He added: "It is a terrible tragedy, of course for this farming community."

The horrific tragedy occurred at approximately 6.30pm.

"It would appear that they ran in front of the tractor, so they were playing nearby, and [the driver] braked and the bucket fell off.

"It's his daughter that is seriously injured. She's 11.

"He went to the hospital immediately with his daughter," Superintendent Pat McCarthy of Mallow Garda Station, said.

"It's a tragic accident from what we know. It will be investigated by the HSA (Health and Safety Authority). The deceased's family are living in Limerick City. There will be a [garda] file for the coroner. Obviously we will look into it but the HSA will also investigate it," he added.

Gardai and officials from the HSA are carrying out separate enquiries. The tractor and front loader were removed from the scene at 1.30pm yesterday and will be subjected to a forensic examination.

Neighbours and friends of both families are rallying around those caught up in the terrible tragedy.

hnews@herald.ie

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