Girl, 5, dies after car crashes into river

Child's father arrested on suspicion of driving into water intentionally

By Nicky Trup
Monday 15 February 2010 01:00

A girl who spent almost two hours trapped inside a submerged car after her father drove it into the river Avon died yesterday. Five-year-old Gabrielle Grady had been in a critical condition Birmingham Children's Hospital since the incident on Thursday.

Her father, Christopher Grady, was arrested after the incident for attempted murder. He was suspected of intentionally driving his Vauxhall Vectra estate into the water with his daughter and six-year-old son, Ryan, on board.

Police divers pulled Gabrielle from the car around an hour and 50 minutes after it was spotted being driven at high speed through fields near Evesham, Worcestershire. Mr Grady and his son had already escaped from the car when the emergency services arrived.

Gabrielle died at 1.30pm yesterday at Birmingham Children's Hospital. She was said to have died "peacefully, "surrounded by her family".

Detective Supt Steve Cullen of West Mercia Police, who is leading the investigation, said in a statement: "We are very sad to hear this terrible news and all our thoughts are with Gabby's family at this difficult time."

Mr Grady, 41, of no fixed address, was charged with attempted murder on Saturday and has been remanded in custody until Thursday, when he is due to appear at Worcester Crown Court. Police said their enquiry had now been upgraded to a murder investigation.

Two ambulances, a rapid response vehicle, an air ambulance and several specialist staff were sent to the incident at Boat Lane, Hampton Ferry, just after 9.20 on Thursday morning. According to paramedics, Mr Grady and his son were already out of the vehicle when they arrived. Witnesses told the BBC how they had seen the car driving fast through a field just before it hit the water with "an almighty bang".

Divers had to be called in from the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to get to trapped Gabrielle, as West Mercia Police does not have a dive team of its own and officers at the scene were not trained to enter the river. The divers arrived from Gloucester in 97 minutes and freed Gabrielle in 12 minutes.

Ambulance crews attempted to resuscitate Gabrielle on the riverbank before she was airlifted to hospital. Ryan was also airlifted to Birmingham Children's Hospital after his condition was stabilised, while the children's father was taken by ambulance to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch. Ryan, who was in a critical condition following the incident, was said to be sitting up and talking on Friday, and police said over the weekend that he was "recovering quite well".

There are only nine police dive teams across the whole of the British mainland, which make their services available to other forces when needed.

West Midlands Ambulance Service issued a statement on the day of the incident, saying: "This was an extremely difficult incident for the staff from all three emergency services. Their close co-operation has ensured everything that could possibly be done, has been."