North West 200 horror crash: Woman mown down in front of children as bike smashes into garden
A woman was cut down by a motorbike which slammed into a garden as her boyfriend and their friends' children looked on in horror at the North West 200 races.
The 44-year-old woman, understood to be from the Coleraine area, suffered head injuries and was last night described as critical but stable in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.
On Monday morning the PSNI issued an update which said the woman was no longer in a critical condition and is described by medics as "stable".
The PSNI also said one of the riders injured in the same incident is also stable at present. His injuries are described as "serious but not life threatening".
Racer Stephen Thompson from Crumlin, Co Antrim, who was also hurt in the incident which saw him catapulted from his speeding machine, was also critically ill but stable.
Eye-witnesses said it was a miracle around 10 people in the garden beside the woman escaped injury as debris flew threw the air like "shrapnel".
As the thoughts and prayers of race fans were with those injured, a relative of the injured spectator tweeted last night that meant a lot to him and his family.
He added he had been told his relative 'reached round' and gave herself morphine.
One said the aftermath of the crash at Station Road, Portstewart, resembled "a war zone".
The three-bike accident unfolded around midday during Saturday's Superstock race.
English rider Dean Harrison crashed at 100mph on a stretch of track between the York Corner and Mill Road roundabout.
Remarkably, despite being hurled from his bike, he was unhurt. Two racers who were travelling behind were also thrown from their machines after apparently colliding while attempting to avoid the debris.
Stephen Thompson was seriously hurt, while Horst Saiger from Liechtenstein suffered minor injuries.
One of the bikes flipped into a front yard, hitting the female spectator.
Her husband told UTV that he, his three children and a neighbour watched the horror crash unfold. He said the 44-year-old suffered head injuries and a suspected broken leg, and was now in an induced coma.
Others described how bikes were sent hurtling through the air.
Michelle Major (36) said her father, Gary, had a miracle escape after being struck on the head by a piece of flying debris.
"My father was hit on the head but is OK," she told the Belfast Telegraph. "The whole thing was bad, scary."
Her mother, Jackie Major, said: "I was in the living room looking out and I saw the bikes flying through the air and saw the riders, and one landed just outside my garden on the pavement, and another fella landed in the middle of the road. I think the bikes hit each other and they were doing somersaults and the bikes were flying everywhere."
She said debris was flying off the bikes "like confetti".
"A piece hit my husband on the back of the head but it must have skimmed past him," she added.
"If he had been fully hit he would have been killed stone dead or split open." Mrs Major said she tended to one of the riders and held his head and made sure he did not move until paramedics arrived.
Another witness said the scene resembled "a war zone".
"The motorbike knocked down a lamppost and then came into the garden and hit a parked car and rebounded off it and hit the woman," he said.
Another eyewitness, Josh McDowell, said people ran for their lives.
"It was very confusing, but we could see the other two bikers coming off and their bikes flying up the road," he said.
"One hit a lamppost and the other hit the wall and then into the woman's garden."
The injured woman was not a resident of the property, but lived locally and had used it as a vantage point in previous years.
The crash happened on the second lap of the Superstock race.
Harrison (26), from Bradford, was not injured and was able to take part in the afternoon races.
Saiger suffered minor injuries and was taken to Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.
He later wrote on Twitter: "Thanks everyone for well wishes, I'll be soon OK. But for now my thoughts are with the lady who is seriously injured and with (Stephen Thompson)".
He also tweeted: "If possible I will come back to talk to her when she's able to."
Thompson suffered horrific injuries including a suspected broken leg, broken pelvis and a punctured lung.
The 38-year-old previously sustained a broken vertebrae at the Ulster Grand Prix in 2012. He was taken to the Causeway Hospital before being transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast. The woman was airlifted to the Royal Victoria.
Yesterday their conditions were described as critical but stable.
Liam Beckett, who was commentating on the race for the BBC, said it appeared to be a freak accident. "I've never heard of (this type of accident) happening before at that particular section of the road," he said. "It is hard to legislate for everything. It's extremely regrettable."