PAUL Donachie faced the most heart-rending moment a father can endure when he had to tell his wife their four-year-old daughter had been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Weeping with grief, he broke the news to his wife moments before she underwent surgery for injuries she sustained in the horrific crash outside the family home.
The news was all the more poignant because, just two weeks earlier, the family, including Samuel, six, and Amelia, two, had been celebrating the birth and homecoming of baby Isabella - the latest addition to the Donachie family.
Olivia Donachie was killed on Wednesday afternoon, when a green Jeep Cherokee mounted the pavement outside her home in Redford Drive, Colinton, Edinburgh, pinning her to a wall. Her mother Rachel, 33, a staff nurse, sustained serious injuries.
Police said the tragedy had been triggered by a road rage incident and the driver had been involved in two collisions minutes earlier.
A 28-year-old man was questioned and released by police "pending further inquires". Police are hunting for the second man, believed to be the Jeep's driver.
Speaking on behalf of the family, Edwin Backler, Olivia's uncle, paid tribute to his niece and described the harrowing situation Mr Donachie had to cope with at the hospital.
Mr Backler, 40, said: "Olivia was a lovely red-cheeked wee girl. She was great fun and loved playing with her brother and sister and eight cousins. She was very girly, and liked playing with her dolls and hairbands and things.
"Just two weeks ago she had been delighted by the arrival of a new sister.
"Paul and Rachel love being parents and are so devoted to their children. But this will make life incredibly difficult."
Mr Backler, who is married to Mrs Donachie's younger sister, Catherine, 32, told how the family were struggling to piece together the sequence of events leading to the tragedy.
Mr Backler, a finance manager, revealed that Mrs Donachie, a nurse, had been hit on the leg, catapulted over the garden wall and knocked unconscious by the impact and was unaware her daughter had been killed.
He said Mr Donachie, a managing director at investment firm Martin Currie, in Edinburgh, had to tell his wife about Olivia as she was rushed into theatre for emergency surgery to save her leg.
Mr Backler said that although Mrs Donachie had been given a brain scan, her only serious injury was to her leg.
He said doctors operated overnight but admitted they did not yet know if the surgery had been a success.
Mr Backler spoke as he went to visit Rachel at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
He said she had lost a lot of blood, but was in a stable condition.
He added: "We are all devastated. This is a time for supporting each other and praying for each other. We're a very Christian family and we firmly believe that Olivia has gone from us to be in heaven with our Lord Jesus. We're praying for her and for Rachel and Paul."
Last night, police appealed for witnesses and asked passengers on Lothian Transport buses Nos 10 and 16, which pass nearby, to come forward.
Chief Inspector Paul Bullen said: "We would also like to hear from anyone who may have seen the fatal crash yesterday afternoon or saw a green Jeep Cherokee driving erratically, and has any information about what happened."
Last night Gordon Reynolds, 56, a teacher at the Rudolf Steiner school, who rushed to help at the crash scene, said he had seen the two men involved in the collision in a state of panic in the immediate aftermath.
"They were definitely not joyriders," he said, "just casually dressed men in their mid to late twenties. They were distraught and their actions were those of someone wanting to get away from the scene.
"They ran about 50 yards to the lollipop man and asked if they could use his mobile phone, but their hands were shaking too much to press any numbers."
POLICE HUNT DRIVER OF JEEP
A POLICE hunt is under way for the man understood to have been the driver of the car which killed Olivia and who fled the scene.
Police are believed to know the identity of the man, who was initially detained by neighbours before managing to break free.
No description has been released for legal reasons following advice from the procurator-fiscal. But chief inspector Paul Bullen said his officers were following "a positive line of inquiry".
A 28-year-old man, believed to be the passenger, was released yesterday after being questioned for six hours by police.
Police have confirmed the driver of the Jeep Cherokee had been involved in a road rage incident with another driver minutes before the crash. The driver had been in a minor collision in Lanark Road which led to an "angry exchange" with other motorists.
A neighbour of the Donachie family said another driver told him how he had been "cut up" by the speeding Jeep moments before it reached Redford Drive.