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Sophia Melnychuk (3) who died in tragic bus accident was ‘very happy and very active little girl'

It is unclear whether the bus knocked her down or if Sophia had fallen in the road and was run over.

Tragedy: Sophia Melnychuk

Conor Feehan

The bus that hit and killed a three-year-old girl just yards from her Tipperary home was carrying her brother, it has emerged.

Sophia Melnychuk was playing with her other brother beside her house in a cul-de-sac on the Castle Heights estate in Carrick-on-Suir on Tuesday when the tragedy happened about 4.30pm.

A private school bus was reversing at a corner in the estate.

It is unclear whether the bus knocked her down or if Sophia had fallen in the road and was run over.

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

Yesterday, 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.

“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.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by a friend of the family to raise funds for the Melnychuks.

By yesterday afternoon it had raised €20,000.

“On Tuesday the 13th of April our family friends lost their beautiful little daughter and sister Sophia Melnychuk who was only 3 years old in a tragic accident,” said page organiser Lee Murphy.

“I live in Carrick-on-Suir my whole life and have never seen such despair or been a part of such heartbreak for a family, they are devastated and cannot believe their little girl Sophia is gone forever," Mr Murphy told the Irish Independent .

“We have been close friends with this family a long time and want to support them any way we can and as best we can.

“We have set up this GoFundMe to support the family financially to help with Sophia’s funeral and other costs.”

“They are the nicest family I know.

“They are dedicated to their children and are well loved in the town.

“They are a beautiful and very close family and we are all devastated for them.

“But we’ll be there for them.”

Sophia’s body was taken to the mortuary in South Tipperary General Hospital, in Clonmel, where a post-mortem examination was due to take place.

The male bus driver was treated by emergency services at the scene. Although he was not physically injured, it is believed he was very distressed.

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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