Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 27 December 2014

Four are rescued as lorry left teetering on Altagoan Bridge

Ambulance Service spokesman John McPoland
Ambulance Service spokesman John McPoland

A collision left a lorry teetering dangerously from a Co Londonderry bridge over a river.

More than 35 firefighters were involved in the "complex" rescue of four people injured when a lorry was in collision with a van at Altagoan Bridge on the Magherafelt Road near Draperstown.

The Fire and Rescue Service was first on the scene just before 5pm yesterday. Specialist personnel from Derry and Belfast worked to ensure that the lorry did not drop into the river.

Group commander Maurice Rafferty praised the work of the crew from Maghera who brought in rescue teams providing specialised water support work.

He said the crew saw that about a third of the lorry had breached the bridge and needed to be made safe before any rescue could begin.

He said: "The initial work to prevent the lorry from falling over the bridge played a significant part in this success result."

Commander Rafferty said that his officers searched the river and its banks both upstream and downstream to ensure that no passenger had fallen into the river.

The Magherafelt Road was closed to traffic for several hours as a crane was sent to the scene in the rescue operation.

Firefighters also used cutting equipment at the scene to allow paramedics access to treat a patient before a trip to hospital.

John McPoland of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: "Three of the patients were taken to Antrim Area hospital, one with potentially serious injuries. One was walking wounded and the third one's condition isn't known."

Later, a fourth person was removed from the vehicle and taken directly to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for treatment.

Sinn Fein councillor Catherine Elattar said that particular stretch of road was not known as an accident blackspot and there had been no crashes there for a time.

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