Final farewell | 

Heartbreak as tragic Sophia Melnychuk (3) laid to rest following funeral service

Sophia sustained fatal injuries after being knocked down by a school bus outside her home in a cul-de-sac in Carrick-on-Suir on Tuesday
Tragedy: Sophia Melnychuk

Tragedy: Sophia Melnychuk

Patrick O'Connell

The family of tragic Sophia Melnychuk (3), who died after being knocked down outside her home in Carrick an Suir on Tuesday, bid her a heart-breaking final farewell as she was laid to rest following her funeral mass on Friday.

Locals lined the road in support as a hearse carrying little Sophia’s coffin made its way from St. Molloren’s Church to St. Mary’s Cemetery where parents Andre and Maria and her brothers Maxsum and Denis said their last sad farewell.

Organiser of a ‘Gofundme’ fundraiser which has now raised in excess of €65,000 for the heartbroken family, Lee Murphy told the Sunday World the funeral ceremony had been small and utterly sad.

“The family and a small number of close friends were all that could be in the church but locals gathered, spaced out, outside the church to show their support to the family.

“The road from the church to the grave-yard was also lined with people.

“It’s all people could do to show their support and to let the family know they are thinking of them.

“We’ll be giving them the space they need to grieve now, because the hardest part is now, but the community will be there for the family no matter what they need.”

Tragic Sophia sustained fatal injuries after being knocked down by a school bus outside her home in a cul-de-sac on the Castle Heights estate in Carrick-on-Suir on Tuesday.

Sophia is understood to have been playing with her brother when the tragedy happened about 4.30pm.

It’s understood the private school bus was reversing at a corner in the estate.

The emergency services treated the little girl at the scene but could not save her.

Throughout the course of the week, neighbours and friends left flowers, candles and soft toys at the scene, which was beside an area where works were being carried out on the footpaths.

A family friend, Inna Kuzmenko, said the family were distraught and numbed by what happened.

“Sophia was a very happy and very active little girl,” she said.

Tributes at the scene of the tragedy

Tributes at the scene of the tragedy

“She loved playing outside with everybody. She loved her little scooter. She was always in a good mood and loved her friends.”

Sophia attended a local Montessori school right beside where she died.

“She loved her school and she was so happy to be going back there on Monday after the lockdown.

“She had so many friends there,” Inna added.

“Sophia loved all her little groups of friends and she was very lively.

“The family moved here from the town around a year ago, and part of the reason was that there are so many young people who their children could be friends with.

“Sophia’s seven-year-old brother was playing with her when the accident happened.

“He saw it. And their older brother, who is 13, was on the bus at the time.

“Their dad, Andre, had been with them but he was helping his wife Maria carry in the shopping when the accident happened.

“At first Maria was quite calm because she was sure that the emergency crews would get Sophia back.

“She was breathing and her eyes were open, but I don’t think she was conscious,” Inna said.

“The neighbours have been fantastic, and the whole town is helping as best they can.

“The kitchen is full of food they have delivered, but the family can’t eat.

“They can barely talk. They just can’t believe what happened.

“All their family are in Ukraine and they haven’t seen them since 2019, and none of the family can travel here to be with them. It is tragic,” she added.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses or for anyone with information in relation to the incident to come forward.

They are also appealing for any road users who may have camera footage who were in the housing estate at the time of the collision, to make this available to gardaí.

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