Belfast Telegraph

Call for change in the law after speedboat critically injures child

Pressure is mounting for a change in safety laws after a boat accident which left a six-year-old boy fighting for his life.

Stuart Wilson remains critically ill in the Royal Victoria Hospital following the accident at Cranfield beach on Monday.

The boy, who was on holiday near the Co Down resort, suffered severe head injuries after being hit by a speedboat.

Holiday-makers at the blue flag beach looked on in horror as he was given first aid by an off-duty doctor and nurse.

Police said they are investigating the accident.

Stuart, the youngest of four children, is from Rathfriland and goes to Iveagh Primary School in the town.

His parents Gary and Heather have been keeping a vigil at his bedside.

Several years ago a similar incident involving a young girl led to Newry and Mourne council establishing a swimmers-only area at the beach.

As pressure mounted for new safety regulations, the mayor, Mick Murphy, was among those calling for Stormont ministers to take immediate action.

“The council has done everything to regulate the safety of swimmers in the area, but the maritime laws need to be changed,” he said.

“We're living in a time when watersports are very popular and young people are very much into them.”

Mr Murphy has called for licences to be issued and training given to people taking part in watersports.

“Legislation needs to be changed with regard to watersports in general and that needs to be done at Stormont level,” he added.

Rob Stevenson, from the Belfast Coastguard, said boat users at the beach should take precautions before they go out on the water.

“When going to the beach, check the tide and the weather and if you're going on a boat wear a life jacket and be safe,” he said.

Stuart had been spending the summer holidays in the area with his family.

His family did not want to speak about the accident but, in a statement issued by Church of Ireland minister David Somerville, they said they were praying he will make a full recovery.

“They would like to thank people for their support and prayers but appeal for privacy at this difficult time,” he said. “They ask everyone to continue to pray for Stuart.”

South Down MLA John McCallister said Stuart was seriously ill.

“The brain damage would be severe,” he said. “He was revived on the beach and by the paramedics several times before getting to hospital.

“He is desperately ill although, with every hour and every minute that passes and he is fighting on, it may look more hopeful.”

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