Lisburn school lightning strike a terrifying end to day which should have been full of tales of joy
It started out as the happiest day of the school year.
Most mornings, the kids have to be dragged out of bed.
Not on sports day when they are raring to get to school and begin the fun.
There were ear-to-ear smiles and enormous excitement at 9am yesterday as the children at Killowen Primary School in Lisburn prepared for their big event.
Likely, they danced and warmed up to music blasted through loud-speakers before the first race.
Nobody could have foretold that, just five hours later, the day would end in horror with a father and his son fighting for their lives and his daughter seriously injured. Nobody could have guessed that lightning literally would strike with such tragic circumstances.
The school grounds which were filled with cheering and shrieks of celebration earlier as children passed the finishing line, now resounded with screams of terror as pupils watched two class-mates and their father electrocuted.
George Allen's five-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter will have been keen to give him all the details of the day when he collected them yesterday afternoon.
The chatter will have been about the egg-and-spoon and sack races and, if they tumbled over, how quickly they got up. And then, at some point, George apparently made, or took, a call on his mobile phone. He'll have thought nothing of that despite the weather.
He won't have seen that split-second action as life-changing and who could blame him?
Had I been picking up my kids in the same circumstances, I wouldn't have given a second thought to answering the phone.
In this part of the world, thunderstorms aren't associated with death.
The chances of being struck by lightning here are one in three million.
Yes, the experts advise us to stay indoors during such weather.
But imagine telling the boss that you're taking the day off work because of a thunderstorm?
What happened to George and his kids was a freak accident.
The pupils that witnessed it will undoubtedly be traumatised.
It will take many counselling sessions for them to deal with that tableau of horror - their school-mates lying injured on the ground as staff battled to save a father's life.
These children are all aged seven or under.
What unfolded before their young eyes is worse than any horror movie they could ever watch.
Even the quickest glance at George Allen's Facebook page shows what a devoted dad he is.
Just a week ago, he was celebrating the fifth birthday of his youngest son, Geordie.
Last night, they were both critically ill in hospital.
George's love for his children is just jumping out of all his posts and photos on social media.
Feasting on fish and chips, falling asleep on the sofa together, walking along the Lagan tow-path, visiting the dentist, tying pony-tails - this is a hands-on father who lives and breathes for his young family.
Let us hope and pray that they all pull through.