Belfast Telegraph

Distressing scenes after schoolgirl knocked off bike and trapped under lorry on Upper Newtownards Road

By Rebecca Black

A young girl was hit by a lorry in a rush hour horror collision in east Belfast.

The 10-year-old had been cycling along the footpath on the Upper Newtownards Road on her way to Strandtown Primary School. As she passed Tesco she was hit by a reversing lorry.

One eye witness told the Belfast Telegraph the scene was one of "pandemonium" as commuters looked on at the child lying under the back of the lorry.

A heroic onlooker slithered under the back of the lorry to comfort the young girl as they waited for the emergency services to arrive, while a doctor offered assistance.

Both Tesco and that section of the busy road was closed for several hours after the accident. The lorry stayed in place with the small, slightly bent bike lying under the back of it.

The eyewitness described the scene when the accident happened at around 8.45am yesterday.

"The child was silent initially, lying under the lorry," she said.

"Then someone crawled under the lorry to talk to her while we waited for an ambulance to arrive. There was also a doctor in the crowd who came over to help.

"As the paramedics started working on her, we could hear her making wee whimpering noises.

"Then her dad arrived and he was just hysterical, screaming, police had to lead him away, then the lorry driver was getting oxygen and clearly in shock, jumping and flapping. I had to walk away, I couldn't look at it all. It was just awful.

"You think your kids are safe cycling a short distance, and on that side of the road there are no major roads to cross.

"We just all hope she is OK."

The child was taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children with what are understood to be back injuries. Her condition last night was described as serious but stable.

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said it received the initial emergency call at 8.42am and was at the scene by 8.45am. The girl was treated at the scene for arm and leg injuries, however neck and back injuries could not be ruled out and she was immobilised with a special mattress as she was moved from under the lorry. Fire trucks attended with capabilities of lifting the lorry, but this was not deemed necessary.

Alliance East Belfast MLA Judith Cochrane heard about the accident just after dropping her own children off for school.

She said she was deeply shocked and upset by the accident, which happened a short distance from her own constituency office.

"I have visited the school and spoken with staff who are comforting those children who witnessed the accident," she said. "At present the girl's injuries are not thought to be life- threatening and I wish her a full recovery. At a time when we are trying to encourage more children to walk and cycle to school, I would urge all drivers to be vigilant, particularly at wide entrances to commercial units where crossing can be difficult."

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