British girl died when dad accidentally fell on her in New Zealand

British girl, three, died when her father accidentally fell on her while trying to jump off a roundabout at a playground in New Zealand

  • Amberlie Penninton-Foley, three, died last year near Wellington, New Zealand 
  • She was playing with father Robert on a type of roundabout when he fell over
  • Girl ended up under him as he fell, and he landed on her with his whole weight 
  • Coroner this week ruled death a ‘freak accident’ and sent condolences to family 

A British girl died in a freak accident when her father fell off a piece of playground equipment and landed on her in New Zealand. 

Amberlie Pennington-Foley, three, died of brain and spinal chord injuries following the accident at a park in Upper Hutt, a city near Wellington, on August 27 last year.

The girl had been playing with dad Robert – who moved from the UK to New Zealand with wife Emma in 2011 – in a park around 10am when tragedy struck.

A coroner’s report issued this week said the pair had been playing on a piece of equipment known as the Supernova Ring – a rotating plastic ring suspended off the ground – when the accident happened.  

Amberlie Pennington-Foley, three, died in August last year after father Robert fell on her while the pair played at a park in New Zealand

The pair had been playing on a piece of equipment known as a Supernova Ring which is suspended off the ground and rotates as people run on it or push it (file image)

Robert had been standing on one side of the ring close to the ground while Amberlie was sitting on the other side of the ring which was raised up higher.

The report said Robert began stepping from one side to another, causing the disc to spin gently which moved Amberlie towards him and away from him again.

‘After repeating this sequence of sideways steps one way and then the other a few times, Mr Foley started to lose his balance,’ the report said.

He tried to jump off of the ring, but this caused it to rotate suddenly – moving Amberlie towards him as he toppled over.

When he fell, he landed with his full weight on his daughter’s head and neck, the coroner reported.

Amberlie initially survived the impact but was noticeably ‘wobbly’ on her feet afterwards, the report says.

Robert noticed that she had blood around her nose and on her top and decided to take her to a medical clinic a three minute drive away, believing it would be quicker than calling an ambulance.

By the time he arrived, Amberlie was pale and unresponsive. Staff at the clinic immediately called an ambulance, but medics were unable to revive the girl.

Coroner Peter Ryan concluded that the girl’s death was not due to a fault with the equipment or negligence on the part of her father.

‘[Her] death was a tragic accident in the true sense of the word,’ he wrote.

‘I would not be surprised to learn that many other parents had previously operated the Supernova in a similar manner without serious incident.’

Ryan concluded by saying he had no recommendations to make following the death, and simply wished to send condolences to the family. 

At the time of the death, Amberlie’s mother Emma said the entire town had been left devastated by what she called the ‘sudden death’.

The family had been appealing for donations to help bring relatives out to New Zealand from the UK for the funeral. 

‘Words alone will never be enough to convey our heartfelt thanks to everybody who has donated or delivered food and flowers to us,’ she told Stuff at the time. 

‘The love and support of everybody around us – and indeed the world – has literally got us through the last few days. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.’  

Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy said his thoughts and prayers are with the family.

‘We are shocked and saddened to hear the news of a child who died following a tragic accident at Harcourt Park today,’ he said. 

‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. We will do everything we can to assist the appropriate authorities with their inquiries.’

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