Ireland Nugent Palm Harbor lawn mower accident: Mom credits neighbor with saving child's life

Child lost both feet

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - The mother of a two-year-old girl who was severely injured in a lawn mower accident addressed the media at Tampa General Hospital on Thursday afternoon.

She credited her neighbor, Ally Smith, with saving her daughter's life.

Nicole Nugent said her daughter, Ireland, is resting comfortably under pain management.  She confirmed that  Ireland lost both of her feet. One of her hands was injured, but she only suffered a broken thumb.

Nugent appeared with the family's pastor outside Tampa General Hospital around 4:30 p.m.

"I'm okay.  I need to be strong for my daughter," Nugent said. "She clearly does not know what's happening right now."

According to authorities, Ireland ran behind her father's riding lawn mower and slipped Wednesday night.  Her father, Jeremiah Nugent, 47, had just finished cutting the grass at their Palm Harbor home and was reversing down the driveway and did not see his little girl.

The accident happened around 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the family's home off Hollow Ridge Road in Palm Harbor.

Investigators say Nicole Nugent, 31, ran outside and tried alerting the father he was about to run over something.  At the time, he was heading into the garage to park his mower.  Authorities say Nugent decided to back up because he thought he was about to hit something moving forward. He continued to back up the tractor until he realized he had run over his 2 1/2 year old daughter, investigators said.

Detectives say he immediately shut off the mower.

A neighbor, who is a nurse, rushed over to the house, and immediately administered aid, keeping pressure on the wounds.

"She saved my daughter's life," Nugent said.

An organization, 50legs.org, has pledged to supply Ireland with prosthetics for the rest of her life.  Nicole Nugent was emphatic about her daughter's resiliency.

"If anybody's going to get through this, it will be her," Nugent said.

While Nicole Nugent said she's holding up okay, she said her husband is having a rough time following the accident.

A fund has been set up to help Ireland.  For more information, visit  http://www.trinityclearwater.org/

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