A two-year-old girl who was dragged along under her mother's car, was saved by her thick winter clothing and snow which helped her slide along instead of being crushed, it was revealed yesterday.

The mother had dropped off her four children at their grandmother's home in Dornoch Crescent, Gateshead, on Saturday afternoon.

Neighbour Brian Rogerson, 34, who tried to help in the rescue, said the mother told the children to go into the house before she began reversing her Chrysler Voyager.

But the child, who has not been named, walked behind the vehicle and was dragged for about 12ft.

It is unclear if the youngster slipped or if she was knocked over by the reversing vehicle.

The woman's son alerted his mother and she stopped immediately, said Mr Rogerson, a postman.

Mr Rogerson, who lives opposite, said: ''Luckily, all the girl's padding protected her, and if the snow had not been there it could have been a lot worse because I think it helped her to slide along.''

He was asked to help by a frantic neighbour.

Mr Rogerson said: ''All I could see were her two little legs hanging out. I didn't know what to expect to find when I dived under the car.

"She was trapped and there was no way of getting her out unless the car was lifted.

"All I could do was give her my coat, hat and a blanket to keep her warm until the fire engine came. 'She was in shock."

The child's left arm was trapped over her chest by a plate underneath the car's engine.

Fire officers used lifting equipment to free the girl and she was taken to hospital.

Mr Rogerson believed the children had visited their grandmother to go sledging.

Station Officer Grahame Dodd, of Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade, said: "She was very fortunate that there were no serious injuries."