Devastated by Tayla's death at Lanlivery Vintage Rally and Country Fair
A COMMUNITY has extended its heartfelt sympathies to the family of a young girl tragically killed following a visit to a steam rally.
Five-year-old Tayla Saunders was visiting the popular Lanlivery Vintage Rally and Country Fair, near Lostwithiel, on Saturday.
Tragedy unfolded after the girl, from Honiton, Devon, ran out behind a commercial truck which was reversing.
Witnesses have described how the truck driver had filled up with water and checked behind before "reversing very slowly".
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Tayla was at the event with her foster parents.
It was the family's first visit to the fair, where they were running a stall.
Diane Williams, show secretary, said: "This was a tragic accident and our heartfelt sympathies go out, not only to the family, but also to the driver of the vehicle.
"I have spoken to the truck driver and he is a lovely, caring man and obviously devastated."
Fighting back the tears Mrs Williams said: "I wish with all my heart the clock could be turned back.
"What should have been a happy time at the steam fair turned into a terrible tragedy.
"As a community we are like a big family and this tragedy has rocked us."
Tayla was a pupil at Upottery School, near Honiton, for just a year.
Staff and schoolfriends have been saddened by her death.
Jillian Nickles, head teacher, described the youngster as "bubbly, full of enthusiasm who loved learning about the world around her".
"Tayla was a bright girl who was full of energy and spirit and we will all miss her.
"Our thoughts are with her family and we send them our sympathy and condolences."
Howard Roberts, chairman of Lanlivery Parish Council, also extended condolences to the family on behalf of the parish.
He said: "We are an incredibly close-knit community and this tragedy is felt by everybody in the parish, not just those at the rally."
"We are indebted to the committee who have worked so hard, year in and year out, for the past 28 years to put on the rally to raise money for charity.
"It's a tragedy to all of us."
The event had been raising money for Cornwall Air Ambulance and the Front Line Emergency Equipment Trust (Fleet), which supports Cornwall's emergency services.
Tayla was hit when she was near to the Fleet stand and within a minute trained staff were battling to save the youngster's life following the accident at approximately 11.40am.
Norman Trebilcock, Fleet general manager, said the girl had suffered head injuries. "I tried to keep her airways open until more help arrived.
"Everything that could have been done to try and save her life was done but I wish we could have done more."
Paramedics stayed with her until Cornwall Air Ambulance crews arrived.
Tayla was flown to Derriford Hospital but later died.
Despite their anguish the family agreed the two-day event, which was raising money for the two organisations who helped Tayla, should continue on the Sunday.
Members of Tayla's family gathered at a service, held every year at the rally's field to mark the event, where prayers were said for the little girl.
Residents in Lanlivery plan to hold a memorial service to celebrate Tayla's life.
Officers from Bodmin serious collisions investigation unit are in charge of the case and a full investigation into the incident continues.