A young teacher heroically saved the life of a young child just seconds before she was knocked down.
Mother-of-two Dawn Croke died instantly when she was struck by a jeep in the grounds of St Crona’s National School at 6.30pm on Thursday night.
Ms Croke, who was in her early 30s, had been in the grounds of the school with her partner Paddy McHugh and Mr McHugh’s six-year-old daughter.
Tragedy struck, however, when a white Ford Ranger which had been parked nearby travellled n the direction of Ms Croke and the young girl. It is not clear what caused the vehicle to move.
It is believed the heroic teacher managed to push the child away from the vehicle but took the brunt of the impact herself.
Ms Croke died instantly and the child was rushed to Letterkenny University Hospital.
She is being treated for a broken pelvis and a foot injury but she is expected to make a full recovery.
Garda forensic investigators were at the scene of the tragedy in the heart of the West Donegal town at first light on Friday morning.
The investigation will centre on what caused the Ford Ranger to travel forward and collide with Ms Croke and the young girl.
The tragedy has sent shockwaves through the local community of Dungloe and across the county of Donegal.
Ms Croke was from a very popular local family who was steeped in the local community and the local music scene.
Ms Croke and her father Tony are both teachers in the local Rosses Community School.
The school remained closed on Friday as a mark of respect to the grief-stricken family.
Ms Croke was a highly-respected teacher and recently brought a group of students on a trip to Dail Eireann in Dublin.
Members of the local Mary from Dungloe organisation last night paid tribute to Ms Croke who was the 2008 Dungloe Mary.
A spokesperson for the Mary from Dungloe committee said: “We are asking committee members and Mary’s past and present to join us for a guard of honour at Dawn’s funeral.”
Colleagues of the tragic school-teacher offered their love and support to her family.
The school has issued a statement offering their support to Dawn’s family including her partner Patrick and her two sons Jason and Calum.
It says: “Our school community wish to offer our sincerest condolences on the tragic death of our colleague and friend, Ms Dawn Croke.
“We offer our condolences to her father and staff member Tony Croke, his wife Anne, our student Emily, past pupils Aaron, Ethan and Adam, her partner Patrick, and her sons Jason and Calum on the sad passing of our wonderful teacher and friend Ms Dawn Croke.
“Our school wish to send our love and support to the family, school and local community at this sad time.
“We, the school community, remember with love and fondness our colleague Dawn. We pray for the family and friends at this sad time.”
Pat the Cope Gallagher TD, who is a personal friend of the Croke family, expressed his profound sympathy following the tragedy.
Mr Gallagher said: “Dawn Croke was an exceptionally gifted individual with a massive personality and warmth that radiated from her on each occasion you met her.
“I knew Dawn well, she is a member of a well-known and much respected Dungloe family. Just last month in December she visited me in Dáil Eireann with a class from Rosses Community School.
“She later brought the class to meet Brother Kevin Crowley and visit the homeless centre in Dublin to present a cheque of €1,000, which she and the class had successfully raised for the charity,” Gallagher said.
“I have spoken earlier today to brother, Kevin to convey news of the tragedy; he recalled her visit and was greatly saddened by the tragic news.
“She was dearly loved by her students and her work colleagues all of whom are devastated at the news of her untimely death.”
Dawn‘s wake will begin at 10am on Saturday in her parents home on Quay Road, Dungloe.
Her funeral will be held on Monday January 14, at 11am in St. Crona’s Church, Dungloe with burial afterwards in Maghery cemetery.
The Rosses Community School will remain closed on Monday.
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