Mum of injured toddler recalls how her son was left 'to die on the side of the road' as a Cork teen is jailed for 4 years

Mum of injured toddler recalls how her son was left 'to die on the side of the road' as a Cork teen is jailed for 4 years
Nathan O'Reilly with an address in Mahon who was sentanced for a hit-and-run when the vehicle he was driving knocked down a 2 year old child in Mahon.

THE mother of the two-year-old child who was seriously injured in a hit-and-run says the teenager responsible has never shown remorse to her family.

Teenager Nathan O’Reilly of 32 Ballinure Avenue, Mahon, was jailed for four years today for knocking down a two-year-old boy outside his house and then driving off, leaving the child seriously injured on the road. 

The mother of the injured two-year-old recalled looking down at her feet outside their home, seeing her son, “lying there lifeless and bleeding from the head — my other children were also screaming.”

She said: “I will never forget the gut-wrenching feeling that I knew something very serious was wrong. We feared for our little boy, whose life was hanging by a thread, as minutes seemed like hours.

“To my dismay, I was told that they didn’t stop, they kept driving at high speed on exiting the estate. I was shocked that they left my baby to die on the side of the road.

“He went by ambulance to CUH where his father and I watched helplessly while he had a seizure, his eyes rolled in the head, and he was frothing from the mouth.

“He was resuscitated in front of us. 

"We were rushed out of the room where doctors and nurses worked tirelessly to save his life, unlike the occupants of the car that knocked him down who failed to even raise the alarm. All they cared about was not getting caught.

“He was put on life support and transferred to Temple Street hospital in Dublin. We discovered he had suffered a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, fractured hip, and a collapsed left lung, a bleed on the brain, and most serious of all, a diffuse axonal brain injury.

"He was in an induced coma.

“Our perfect happy, healthy little boy would have to fight the bravest battle of his life at the tender age of two years and 8 months — we were heartbroken as were the rest of our extended family. 

"I can’t put into words how horrendously helpless we felt — while this was happening our other children were suffering at home in Cork. 

"The incident made national news and our other kids were being asked at school if their brother had died — this was very upsetting.

“He was unable to walk, talk or use his hands — he couldn’t even hold his head — he was like a new baby all over again. He was being fed through a tube and he had started a rehabilitation programme in Temple Street. 

"He would have to relearn how to do everything again and nobody could say for sure whether he could do any of these things again.

“He spent eight days on life support, 12 days in intensive care, and seven weeks in Temple Street and then transferred back to CUH where he spent another two weeks and he recently spent another two weeks in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire and will have to spend time there again next year.

“He has a permanent traumatic brain injury and he will suffer with this for the rest of his life.

“He struggles with his speech, his processing is slower, his understanding of things isn’t as it should be — he has sensory issues which he never had.

“He’s highly emotional and he is too young to do a neuro assessment of him but it is possible he could have learning difficulties and an intellectual disability and we were told he would probably stay dependent for the rest of his life — all of this has taken its toll on our family so much.

“Our home which we worked so hard to buy just doesn’t feel the same anymore, we don’t feel safe anymore. We don’t and our children don’t feel safe, they won’t even stay downstairs on their own if I am upstairs.

“He (O'Reilly) has never expressed any remorse whatsoever to me for what he has inflicted on our son and family.

“Our lives now consist of daily appointments with speech and language, physiotherapy, occupational therapy while also caring for our other two children — life is draining at the moment and this is down to the defendant’s complete disregard for the law and his reckless behaviour.”

The child’s mother expressed her thanks for the support from family, friends, neighbours, the wider community, gardaí, ambulance crews, doctors and nurses at CUH and Temple Street and staff at National Rehabilitation Centre and Support for Victims After Crime.

O’Reilly was sentenced on a charge of dangerous driving causing serious harm and he was also banned from driving for 20 years. 

He also pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene and related charges arising out of the incident on the afternoon of March 25.

He was sentenced to six years in custody with the last two years of that sentence suspended.

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