Belfast Telegraph

Cloughmills tragedy mother: I never want to go up that road again, or near that house. I just keep thinking, 'what if?...'

By Chris Kilpatrick

Her worst fears were tragically prophetic.

Weeks after begging education chiefs to provide transport to take her children to school, Sarah Gilmour followed the little white coffin of one of them, confined to a wheelchair at his funeral.

Unable to walk due to her injuries, Sarah spoke to this newspaper from a bed in her sister's living room, and she was in no doubt who she blamed for the loss of her eight-year-old son.

Bunches of flowers and the shirt of Adam's favourite football team, Chelsea, yesterday marked the spot where the tragedy happened last Tuesday morning.

Sarah said she will never be able to pass it or return to the family home nearby.

"I can remember absolutely nothing about it," she said. "I can't remember getting up that morning or anything. I woke up in hospital that night and my family told me about Adam."

The mum-of-nine said she cannot move her legs. She faces months of intensive physiotherapy in the hope she will be able to walk again.

Coupled with the devastation of losing a child, Sarah is also angry. She is in no doubt he would still be alive had resources been made available to take her children to school safely.

"As long as my children are living and breathing they won't be on that road again," she said.

"It could happen again on the same road unless something is done.

"I'll never get over it. I just keep thinking, 'what if'. I never want to go up that road again, I never want to go near that house."

An investigation is under way into how the education board handled the family's request for a bus to collect the children from their home.

With no form of transport, they had no option but to walk the perilous route every morning. The stretch of isolated rural road has no footpaths or street lighting.

"If somebody had listened, somebody could have given the bus the go-ahead to come up to the house," Sarah said.

She added: "They haven't even sent me a letter of sympathy since."

Sarah believes she will never recover from the loss of her little son. "He had his Christmas presents picked out already," she said. "My dad is very sick so we had been planning a really big Christmas. Adam wanted an iPhone and a ride-on lawnmower.

"He said we could take the blades off it so it would be safe and he would just drive it. He was only eight but he was more like 28. He was a wee comedian. I can't believe he's gone."

Adam's grandmother told how the young victim's nine-year-old brother Kyle ran to her house screaming for help moments after the crash.

Marlene Hanna arrived at the scene to find her grandchildren and their belongings scattered across the ground in a scene of horror.

Adam was fatally injured, their mother seriously hurt and one of the other boys was also badly hurt with serious leg injuries, after a car collided with them.

"The education board must get something done for children in rural areas, not just my own family," Marlene said. "It has to be done for everybody who has wee children walking the roads.

"I don't want to lose any more grandchildren. I blame the board, absolutely."

The family yesterday read sympathy cards they have been sent from across Northern Ireland. The heart-rending tributes included cards made by Adam's classmates at Clough Primary School.

At Adam's funeral, Reverend Colin McDowell said it was a "time of sadness" for everyone.

"Adam was a boy whose short life was filled with family, with fun and with friendship," he said.

"Adam loved his time at school. He was a character in his class - he was the one that did keep them all going at times. And, like his headmaster, Adam was a big Chelsea supporter and, as many of you know and his little picture shows, Adam was really interested in farming and excited that that was really what he wanted to do."

"Adam was taken from us all very suddenly and very tragically and we thank God for his short but full life," Rev McDowell added.

A week has passed since the tragedy but the family's scars resulting from that horrific day will never truly heal. And meanwhile, their battle for answers goes on.

Belfast Telegraph

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