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Boy (8) critically injured after falling off tractor now 'stable'

By Lisa Smyth

Published 27/10/2015

DUP MLA and family friend Mervyn Storey
DUP MLA and family friend Mervyn Storey

An eight-year-old boy who was last night fighting for his life after the latest farming accident to hit Northern Ireland is now in a "stable" condition.

It is believed that the youngster, who has been named locally as James Gregg, sustained head injuries after falling from a tractor on the Old Frosses Road near Cloughmills in Co Antrim yesterday morning.

The exact details of how he fell from the tractor or who was present at the time are unknown.

The boy's distraught parents, Wallace and Joan, remained at his bedside at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, where it is understood he underwent surgery.

A Belfast Health and Social Care Trust spokeswoman on Monday evening described his condition as critical.

But it is understood he improved over night as this morning he was described as now being "stable".

After the schoolboy was injured yesterday morning, he was taken to a nearby health centre.

A spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said paramedics responded to a call made just after 11.30am after a boy fell off a tractor and sustained a head injury. The spokesman added: "He was taken to Antrim Area Hospital and then subsequently transferred to Belfast just after 2pm."

The farming community have rallied round the family, described as well-known and respected in the local area.

Mrs Gregg is a teacher and Mr Gregg runs the family farm.

In 2012, the family of six appeared on UTV's Rare Breed farming series, which revealed the ups and downs of rural life in Northern Ireland.

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey, a family friend, said: "This is a terrible tragedy and I hope the young lad makes a full and speedy recovery.

"I know the parents, and I hate to think what they must be going through. It's horrific. The news of this accident has stunned the local community in the Cloughmills area.

"Many schools have just started their half-term holidays, and this highlights the dangers that can exist around a working farm."

UUP councillor Darryl Wilson also offered his best wishes to the family. "It is so concerning that there has been another accident on a farm as we have already experienced quite a bit of tragedy in the area," he said.

"It shows that we still have to work towards increasing farm safety. Of course, our thoughts and prayers are with the young fella, and I hope he pulls through and makes a full recovery."

Yesterday's tragedy occurred close to the scene of a fatal farming accident in June 2014.

Eight-year-old Robert Christie died in a slurry tank accident in Dunloy that also left his dad fighting for his life.

An inquest into his death found that Robert died from asphyxia from the toxic gases released during the mixing of slurry at a family friend's farm on Ballynaloob Road.

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