Neighbours of a toddler fighting for her life after suffering a suspected assault are anxiously awaiting updates on her condition, praying the little one pulls through.
Residents of Milton Grove in Shotton Colliery, a former pit village in the Durham coalfield, are almost unable to comprehend the nature of the criminal inquiry being carried out on their doorstep.
Forensic officers in white overalls have been at the scene for two days after reports of a medical incident involving a two-year-old girl sparked a major emergency response on Wednesday afternoon.
Police and paramedics raced to the scene, working to give the youngster urgent treatment before she was airlifted to the RVI in Newcastle.
Meanwhile, a man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of assault with intent to cause serious harm.
Rumours of what has happened have been posted on Facebook and police have asked people to refrain from speculation or publishing information that could jeopardise any potential legal proceedings.
The suspect has been released pending further investigation and on Friday, two days after the incident, the toddler remained in intensive care in a critical condition.
People who live in the close-knit community are still coming to terms with what has happened and have said the toddler is constantly in their thoughts.
One woman said: “I feel sick, the whole community does at the thought of it.
“We don’t know the little girl, but it doesn’t matter. It is heart-breaking.”
The woman said she has nine grandchildren and ten great grandchildren.
She said: “I keep comparing the little girl to our little ones.
“We are praying for her like she was one of ours.
“We do not know what happened but to think of any child getting hurt is awful.
“It is very upsetting. I hope she is okay.”
Emergency services, including Great North Air Ambulance, arrived at the mid-terrace house after the alarm was raised.
One woman said: “I heard the sirens going at about 3.15pm on Wednesday but I though nothing of it because we are always hearing sirens around here anyway.
“My cousin came in and said: ‘Have you seen all of the police and ambulances out here’.
“The police told us it was a two-year-old when they came around door-to-door.
“It is horrible. It makes me feel sick. I have got grandbairns. You don’t hear of things like this on your own doorstep.
“I hope this little girl pulls through, God love her.”
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