Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Carnage on Belfast street after man's heart attack while driving

The scene after a silver Audi car mounted the pavement and collided with several pedestrians on the Woodstock road in east Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
The scene after a silver Audi car mounted the pavement and collided with several pedestrians on the Woodstock road in east Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

A devastated wife battled to try and save her husband’s life as he lay on the street following a horror car crash.

Neil Florence (47) died after he suffered a heart attack behind the wheel yards from the business he had bought in east Belfast just weeks ago.

The car came off the road and hit two pedestrians and a woman on a mobility scooter. His wife Diane, who he married in 2011, rushed to her husband and tried to resuscitate him.

His wife Diane is understood to have been working behind the counter of Smyth's Chippy in east Belfast yesterday when Neil's silver Audi careered onto the footpath, knocking over a bollard before striking three pedestrians, including a woman on a motability scooter. Two of the victims, a man and a woman, were in a stable condition in hospital last night.

Diane rushed out of the shop as horrified residents pulled Neil from his car. She tried to resuscitate her husband, giving him mouth-to-mouth breathing assistance.

Shocked residents told of their desperate attempts to help the injured in the moments after the crash.

As scenes of horror descended on the busy Woodstock Road yesterday lunchtime, the local community also tried to save the life of driver Neil Florence, who had lost control of his vehicle.

Young mothers, children, grandparents and workers were on the road when tragedy struck outside Charis charity shop.

Tracey Lavery, who owns a dog grooming business, told the Belfast Telegraph: "I had been standing at the door waiting for someone when I saw the car hitting the bollard, then I saw people flying into the shop window.

"I've never seen anything like it before, usually I'm a very nervous person but I think it must have been instinct.

"My friend ran up too, we opened the door of the car, my friend took off his seatbelt, the airbag had come out, I was reaching to find the keys to switch off the engine, I could hear noises coming from the car but the engine was off. Someone yelled we need men to help so we moved out of the way."

Tracey next knelt down to help a man lying on the ground who had been hit by the car.

"He was really bad, his elbow had actually come out of his arm," she said. "I sat with him, held his hand and talked to him trying to keep him awake until the ambulance arrived, he wouldn't let go of my hand. Someone from the charity shop covered his arm with a blanket.

"He said he didn't know what happened, just that he had felt himself bouncing off the window. He asked me to phone his work and his sister-in-law to let them know what happened, I'd have liked someone to do that for me too if that had been me.

"The girl in the mobility scooter was also really bad.

"Then this other guy appeared from the window of the shop and people looked after him too."

Tracey saw the driver being resuscitated. "Another woman was working on the driver, resuscitating him, I think they got him breathing again, then when they turned him on his side into the recovery position he seemed to stop," she said.

"It was so bad, I have never seen anything like it in my life."

Shop owner David McQuitty said: "I was facing the other way serving a customer when I heard the crash. There is usually a five- or six-year-old boy standing there with a guitar, I feared it had been him who was hit. I then called an ambulance."

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