'I'll not see Lauren wed or have kids. I won't ever see her happy again'
Mum whose daughter has been in a coma for eight months after being hit by car offers sympathy to hit-and-run tragedy family
The heartbroken mother of a young girl left fighting for her life after being knocked off her bicycle by a car last August has called on motorists to slow down following the death of Armagh teen Lesley-Ann McCarragher.
Elaine McFarlane, an accountant from Lisburn, has maintained a vigil by the hospital bedside of her 14-year-old daughter Lauren for eight months, and says she will never get her "lively, caring little girl" back again.
Lauren was 13 and on her way to her local shop when she was hit by a car on a country road, sustaining horrific injuries.
Eight months on and she remains in a sub-low conscious state, can't hear properly, see properly or speak, and is not expected to walk again.
Her mum says Lauren doesn't know her own family, but despite their devastation Elaine's thoughts last night were for the family and friends of Lesley-Ann.
The 19-year-old died on Sunday after being hit by a car as she jogged close to her home the previous afternoon.
Yesterday a 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named because of his age, faced a number of charges including death by dangerous driving, driving without a licence or insurance, and failing to stop, report or remain at the scene of an accident.
Tributes have poured in for the young woman who was described by her devastated parents as "beautiful and intelligent" and who always had "a smile for everyone".
Her senseless death, and the loss of the promising future Lauren has been robbed of, prompted Elaine to make an emotional appeal to all motorists - especially young drivers - to take care and slow down.
She said: "My heart goes out to Lesley-Ann's family.
"At least we still have Lauren, albeit not much of her, but we still have her and can hold her hand and give her her wee Minnie Mouse, which she always took to bed with her.
"They (the McCarraghers) have nothing left only memories - they barely got 24 hours (with her)."
She added: "I just wish young drivers would stop going so fast, especially on country roads. They need to understand the consequences.
"Lesley-Ann was out jogging, she was only a child trying to keep fit, and Lauren was going to the shop on her bicycle - they should be able to do that without danger.
"Since Lauren's accident there have been so many others and so many lives lost and something needs to be done to try and change the situation.
"Young drivers need to understand, and all drivers need to slow down."
It was a carefree Saturday afternoon on August 8 last year when Lauren set out on her bike to her local shop with her younger brother Nathan and her friend, who were walking. It was a country road outside Lisburn and a car hit Lauren with such force that she was thrown onto its windscreen before hitting the ground.
Her injuries were so horrific that she needed a transfusion and surgery on her head.
Life changed in an instant, not just for Lauren but for Elaine (44), stepfather William (50) and Nathan (13).
Elaine said: "Initially her oxygen levels were zero and she had an emergency blood transfusion.
"She then had to have her skull removed, and usually they put it into the stomach where it can reform and then they can put it back in, but Lauren's was so badly shattered they couldn't do that.
"She had to have a metal plate put in her head. She was in intensive care for six weeks fighting for her life, and even when she was moved to the neurological ward in the Royal she was still critical.
"She was moved to Musgrave in December and is severely disabled.
"She was initially deemed to be in a vegetative state, and now she is on a sub-low conscious level.
"When she had to have her skull removed she suffered a series of strokes which have left her unable to speak or communicate, and she can't see clearly and has lost the hearing in one ear.
"She is still very sick. It has totally taken over our lives.
"In a matter of an instant our lives became non-existent and we've just lived to work and be at the hospital and then try to spend as much time as we can with Nathan, although he is great and really understands that Lauren has to be our priority at the moment."
While Elaine can visit her daughter every day in hospital, she grieves for the once bright and bubbly young girl she will never see again.
She described Lauren as a lovable and a typical teen who was devoted to her wee brother. She said Lauren dreamed of going to Los Angeles and making it big "just like the Kardashians" - dreams she will now never fulfil.
Elaine added: "We don't have Lauren, we just have a child who can't communicate and doesn't know us.
"I can't hear her talk anymore, she used to text and phone us constantly every day and I don't have that anymore.
"I lost my baby, I've lost my daughter and she was my best friend. From an early age she and her wee friend have talked about going into hair and beauty when they grow up, and when they turned 18 they were both going to LA to get a job.
"She was a typical wee teen and she lived with that dream and her dream is now shattered. She will never see LA and I won't ever see her get married or have children, and I'm never going to see her happy again."
Not a day has gone by in the last eight months that Elaine, William or Nathan have not shed tears for the loss of the Lauren they knew and loved.
Hearing of the loss of Lesley-Ann's life left Elaine even more bereft and wanting something to be done to slow drivers down.
She said: "We have Nathan and he will always be my baby boy, and Lauren was my baby girl, and the two of them were always together and they always stood up for each other, and now Nathan is coping with losing Lauren too.
"We know because it happened to us that we need to drive with care, and yet I don't know what it would take to get the message through to others, especially young drivers.
"I think more needs to be done to make our roads safe for cyclists and runners and pedestrians."