Belfast Telegraph

Belfast childrens' terror as bus taking them to Santa involved in head-on crash

By Allan Preston

Toddlers and parents travelling on a bus to see Santa Claus were left traumatised after a car collided head-on with their coach.

The accident happened at 10.45am yesterday on Cromac Street, near St George's Market in central Belfast.

A few minutes earlier, around 40 parents and children aged three and under from the Lorag nursery on the Ormeau Road set off on a bus trip to see Santa at Ark Open Farm.

Although the car involved in the accident was badly damaged, no one was seriously injured.

One parent sitting at the front of the bus was left badly shaken, and police later confirmed a woman in her 30s and a two-year-old child were taken to hospital for check-ups.

Both vehicles were also removed from the road by 12.20pm after emergency services quickly arrived at the scene of the crash.

One parent said: "There was a huge bang and the impact seemed to go right through the bus as a head count was being taken.

"Children were crying and parents were panicking because they didn't know what was happening."

Another passenger on the bus told the Belfast Telegraph: "The children all seem fine now, but they are shocked.

"Obviously, they thought they were going to see Santa in the farm and now they're not - the police and the ambulance are here instead."

Grainne McHugh, family support co-ordinator for South Belfast Sure Start, said children would likely miss out on seeing Santa because it was too difficult to rearrange the trip before Christmas.

"The bus company offered another bus and there was another one on the scene very quickly, but some of the families had quite a tight deadline between going to the farm and collecting their other children from nursery," she explained.

"The lady who was shaken up was sitting at the front and saw the car colliding with the bus. I think the shock was more in seeing it.

"The impact itself was minor - there was a bit of a bump and the children wondered what was going on, but I think that they were contained quite well by their parents and by the staff.

"It might be a little ambitious to arrange another Santa trip before Christmas, but a lot of parents said they would take their children individually and we can do something in the new year."

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