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Driver 'didn't know' that he had hit tragic 18-month-old boy on farm

Driver 'didn't know' that he had hit tragic 18-month-old boy on farm

The driver of a front loader vehicle that accidentally hit and killed a baby boy did not know the tragedy had happened until after leaving the farm.

Bill Bennett, who was 18 months old, was killed in a farm tragedy at around 3pm on Thursday when he was struck by the vehicle, which was working the family's land in the Johnswell area of Co Kilkenny.

It is understood the person controlling the front loader left the farm before it was discovered the baby had been struck in the tragic accident.

"This person didn't even realise what had happened, that the young lad had been hit.

"It's a terrible accident and an awful tragedy," a source said.

The baby was the fourth child of Elaine and Johnny Bennett, a family who are said to be very popular in the local area.

The family are known to be extremely safety conscious and have specific play areas for the children away from the farmyard.

Locals said the family had been left "absolutely devastated".

"The whole place is in mourning at what has happened," local councillor Patrick Millea told the Irish Independent.

"They would be a very well-known family in the area. I would have known the grandfather of the little boy quite well.

"Everyone is just in complete shock," he said.

Gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority are investigating the incident which has caused devastation in the community, located a few kilometres east of Kilkenny city.

The victim has two older brothers and a sister, while many members of Mr and Mrs Bennett's extended family also live in the area.

"This is an unimaginable tragedy," local priest Fr Frank Purcell said, after spending several hours consoling the family on Thursday.

"The whole place is devastated. It's unbelievable."

Funeral arrangements have been put in place for baby Bill.

Prayers were being said last night at the family home with funeral mass to take place today at 3.30pm at The Church of St John the Baptist, in Johnswell.

"Deeply regretted by his heartbroken parents John and Elaine, brothers Eoghan and Cathal, sister Caoimhe, grandparents Ted, Sean and Monica, aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends," the funeral notice said.

Local councillor Pat Fitzpatrick appealed for privacy for the family.

Luke Byrne