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Tragedy as Devon girl, 5, killed at vintage steam rally in Cornwall

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 10, 2012

The entrance of Lanlivery Vintage Rally, where a five-year-old girl was killed in a tragic accident on Saturday

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A five-year-old girl has been killed in a "tragic accident" after a slow-moving vehicle reversed over her at a Westcountry steam rally.

The child died in hospital despite desperate attempts to save her after she reportedly ran behind the commercial 4x4 vehicle at the Lanlivery Vintage Rally, Steam Fair and Country Fair, near Lostwithiel late on Saturday morning.

People at the scene said the girl almost ran into the back of the vehicle as it reversed extremely slowly.

Yesterday, the show continued under the blessing of the girl's foster parents, a family said to be from Honiton in East Devon who were present at the time of the tragedy.

The day began with a memorial service to the child, which her foster family attended.

Show secretary Diane Williams said yesterday: "It was a tragic accident and the family wish us to continue.

"A commercial vehicle went to reverse, and the driver was very safety-conscious.

"I was told that he did get out of his vehicle and check there was nobody behind him. He was reversing very slowly, but the child ran out behind him and he reversed over her."

Mrs Williams rushed to the scene as soon as she was alerted at 11.40am on Saturday. "It was just tragic. The little girl was still alive, and they were all working to help her."

The show's chosen charities are the Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Front Line Emergency Equipment Trust (Fleet), which supports Cornwall's emergency services. The accident happened near the Fleet exhibition stand, and its trained staff instantly began to try to save the child.

Mrs Williams said: "The little girl was airlifted to Derriford. At that point, we knew it was serious, but we didn't know how serious and the show continued.

"Later in the day we were informed that the little girl had died. At 5pm the committee had a meeting to decide whether to continue or not. It was the family's wish that we continue, because at the end of the day the people who helped her were the Air Ambulance and Fleet."

The rally always starts with a service, and this year it became a memorial for the girl. Mrs Williams broke down as she said: "The family attended the service and one of the members of their party said 'if God had to take her, it couldn't have happened at a better place'. She said 'we thank you all, you have all been so supportive of us'."

Patricia Barrett, wife of show chairman Ivan Barrett, was at the show ground on Saturday. "It was an accident. Nothing could have been done any differently to stop it," she said.

"It's one of those things that you don't ever expect to happen. It was tragic for everyone concerned. They were all absolutely devastated."

Eye witnesses said the child appeared to be running towards a nearby helter-skelter.

One woman said: "We heard a little girl scream. It was a truck that was reversing very, very slowly. She came around the corner of the adjacent field and the truck collided with her. It was a tragic accident. I believe the child was with one of her family members at the time."

Paramedic Norman Trebilcock, a clinical support officer based at Wadebridge, was just yards from when the accident happened and raced to the scene. "She had suffered a head injury from where she had hit the back of the truck. She also had abdominal and pelvic injuries. She was unconscious where she had been knocked out by the truck. It was a bad situation and I called for the air ambulance from Newquay which took about eight minutes to get to the scene."

The show is now in its 25th year, and features vintage machinery and attractions alongside a wide range of trade stalls and a car boot sale.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the girl's identity would not be released until "all interested parties were aware". The Health and Safety Executive was informed but did not attend the scene.

Police have appealed for witnesses.

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