A guest at a wedding which was thrown into turmoil after a double-decker bus carrying 60 guests crashed has told how the newlyweds endured an agonising wait for news.
Alex Speers spoke of how the bride and groom made desperate efforts to contact friends and family who were on the vintage bus when it overturned into a field on its way from the church to the reception.
Ms Speers is a cousin of Amy Adair, who married Robbie Sinclair at Fisherwick Presbyterian Church in south Belfast on Saturday.
After the service, a Routemaster bus was laid on to carry 60 guests to the Montalto Estate near Ballynahinch, where their wedding reception was being held.
As the double-decker vehicle travelled along the Ballynahinch Road outside Lisburn it suddenly toppled over and landed in a field.
Fourteen guests were taken to hospital, with one being treated for a broken hip, after a major emergency operation which involved 11 ambulances as well as the police and Fire Service.
All have since been released.
Ms Speers, who is captain of the Ireland women’s hockey team, had arrived at the Montalto Estate when word came through of the crash.
The 26-year-old described the scenario for the newlyweds as they tried to glean news as a “nightmare”.
The Dublin-based sportswoman said one of the bridesmaids left the reception to try and reach the scene of the crash but was turned back by police.
“It was very scary when we heard the bus had toppled over and we were all worried about their safety as it was difficult to get in contact with any of them,” she said. There were two buses taking people to the reception on Saturday and it was when the smaller of the two buses arrived that we heard about the double decker.
“Everyone was obviously very upset by what happened, it was a nightmare.”
Ms Speers said the outcome could have been “a lot worse”.
“A lot of people were lucky in that they weren't injured too seriously.
“The majority of people were okay.”
After a few hours’ delay, the reception went ahead and guests pulled together in an effort to make the day special for the newlyweds, who are both London-based solicitors and now on honeymoon in Africa.
The property surveyor, who is originally from Kilkeel, said that while the crash dampened the spirits of guests for a short time “it was still a great day”.
Police investigating the cause of the accident believe the bus may have been struck by a grey-coloured lorry, possibly a horse box lorry, which failed to remain at the scene.
They are keen to speak to the driver and can be contacted on 0845 600 8000.