Castlederg girl’s death “absolutely devastating”

An inquest in Derry has been told how a Castlederg girl choked on an uninflated balloon last year, just two days before her 11th birthday.

Dreena Harron wept after hearing coroner John Lecky describe her daughter Clarice’s death as  “absolutely devastating”.

The inquest heard how on November 7, parents Gerald and Dreena Harron and daughter Clarice went to Spamount Community Hall for a friend’s birthday party.

After about an hour however, that fun turned to tragedy when parents were alerted by hysterical screams from Clarice’s friends, who told them that Clarice had swallowed a balloon.

Despite only seconds having passed, family friend Jenny McMenamin said Clarice’s lips were already turning blue and the young girl was gasping and pointing to her throat. Efforts to remove the balloon and revive her proved fruitless.

Local GP, Dr Brendan O’Hare, who arrived at the scene within ten minutes said he did manage to extract the balloon from her throat but explained that already, it would have been too late to save her because of the way the balloon had lodged awkwardly on the top of the young girl’s windpipe.

Asked by Harron family solicitor, John Fahy if there was anything that could have been done by the public or even paramedics, Dr O’Hare said “no.”

Summing up his findings, Coroner John Lecky described the inquest as one of the saddest he has heard in years.