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, a neighbour said today.

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

A neighbour Brian Rogerson, 34, who tried to help in the rescue said the mother had 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, he said.

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

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

Mr Rogerson said: ''Luckily all her 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 lives opposite the accident scene and was asked to help by a frantic neighbour. Mr Rogerson told PA News today: ''I didn't know what to expect, all I saw were her two little legs hanging out.

''I dived to get 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.

''She was shaking from the fear and the cold, her poor little hands were red raw.

''It was snowing a blizzard.''

Paramedics arrived and they decided it was not safe to try to move the car and waited for fire officers to attend, the neighbour added.

The mother was ''really upset'' talking all the time to the child who was terrified, Mr Rogerson said.

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

Fire officers used lifting equipment to jack up the car and the girl was pulled out and taken to hospital.

Mr Rogerson believed the children had come to visit their grandmother to go sledging. There was no answer at the grandmother's semi-detached home today which overlooks a playing field popular with children going sledging.

Sunday newspapers were lying on the doormat of the home and thick snow covered the family Ford Escort.

Station Officer Grahame Dodd of Tyne and Wear Fire Brigade said today: ''We had to use a jack to lift up the vehicle and pull her free.

''She has been very fortunate that there were no serious injuries.''

Mr Rogerson said: ''I got my hat back later and a note saying that the girl was okay.'' .