Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 6 October 2015

Community speaks of shock after horror crash

By Rebecca Petticrew

Published 05/09/2013

Neil Florence, who died today when the car he was driving was in collision with some pedestrians on the Woodstock road in Belfast.
Neil Florence, who died today when the car he was driving was in collision with some pedestrians on the Woodstock road in Belfast.

Local residents are still reeling one week after a harrowing traffic accident on the Woodstock Road which saw a man die and his car hit three pedestrians before crashing into a charity shop.

The accident occurred at around midday on Thursday, August 29, when local businessman Neil Florence (47) lost control of his car after suffering a fatal heart attack at the wheel.

Neil's car mounted the footpath, hitting three pedestrians, including a woman on a mobility scooter.

A male pedestrian was thrown through the window of Charis charity shop by the force of the impact.

All three pedestrians were taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment for head and lower limb injuries.

The accident happened almost opposite Smyths Traditional Fish and Chip Shop which Neil and his wife of two years, Diane bought a few weeks ago.

Diane is believed to have witnessed the full horror of the smash as she worked behind the counter of the chip shop.

She rushed to the scene as onlookers pulled Neil from his car and she gave him first aid.

One eyewitness told the Community Telegraph Diane had given her husband mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in a bid to revive him.

"It seemed like she got him back and they put him in the recovery position. But then they lost him again and I saw the paramedics working on him when they arrived. I think he died before they even got him to the hospital.

"It was awful. People were working on the driver, there was someone on the car, someone through the shop window and someone went under the car; it was just terrible," she explained.

Eyewitnesses said many of the traders from the road tried to help the victims, bringing tea towels and blankets to stem bleeding and trying to comfort them until paramedics arrived.

One person described the scene as being "like something out of a film".

A local trader told the Community Telegraph the events from last week still haven't sunk in and the close-knit community is still coming to terms with what happened.

"There's a real sense of shock among local people. Nobody can believe that this has happened," she said, adding: "It's not the kind of thing you expect to see on your own doorstep, it didn't seem real. and it's just really sad, especially with them just taking over Smyths and his poor wife having to see all that."

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