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Palm Harbor father backed over daughter while cutting lawn


Published:   |   Updated: April 11, 2013 at 05:45 PM
PALM HARBOR -

A father backed over his 2-year-old daughter Wednesday evening with a riding lawn mower, severing her feet at the ankles and injuring her left hand.

Jeremiah Nugent, 47, was cutting the lawn and about to park the mower in the garage when his wife, Nicole, 31, came out of the house, waving her hands at him, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.

Nugent thought she was trying to tell him he was about to drive over something, so he put the mower in reverse, the sheriff's office said.

He kept backing up until he realized he had run over his daughter, Ireland. He immediately shut off the mower, but it rolled down the driveway.

Nicole Nugent then ran inside the house and called 911.

Deputies responded to 560 Hollow Ridge Road, in the West Lake Village Subdivision, about 7:30 p.m.

Ireland was flown to Tampa General Hospital.

The accident threw the neighborhood into a state of turmoil and grief as authorities closed Hollow Ridge Road and made arrangements to transport Ireland by ambulance to a church parking lot so she could be flown to Tampa General.

Ruth Lucidi was sitting in the lanai with her husband on an adjacent street when she heard the riding mower's engine shut off. Then came what she described as a God-awful cry.

“It was the dad,” she said.

Lucidi ran over and told her husband to call 911. She was one of two women who held Ireland until paramedics arrived, and heard Jeremiah describe what happened to deputies.

“He was unaware the child was even outdoors,” Lucidi said. “He will never be the same.”

“The father was screaming inconsolably,” said Dru Overwijk, a 61-year-old retired high school teacher who lives next door to the Nugents.

Nugent was pacing back and forth, saying over and over “This can't be happening,” Overwijk said.

“I could hear him through the walls,” she said.

The Nugents and their four children moved into the neighborhood in the last year and a half, neighbors said. Their three older ones attend Sutherland Elementary School in Palm Harbor. Property records show they purchased the house, with another couple, in 2011.

“It was a freak accident, an unforeseen thing,” said Emily Hannan, 73, a retired secretary who lives two houses down from the Nugents. “The father was always careful.”

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