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Clare Smyth's heartbroken husband hails emergency services after Ballycastle crash tragedy

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Police seal off the Whitepark Road outside Ballycastle in County Antrim following an accident in which a mother and daughter died

Police seal off the Whitepark Road outside Ballycastle in County Antrim following an accident in which a mother and daughter died

Photopress Belfast

Police seal off the Whitepark Road outside Ballycastle in County Antrim following an accident in which a mother and daughter died

Clare Smyth's grieving husband has expressed his appreciation for the emergency services who attended the scene of the tragic accident that claimed the lives of his wife and one of his daughters.

Ryan Smyth, who was too distressed to speak, issued a statement through Rev John Stanbridge, a minister at Ballycastle and Croaghmore Presbyterian Church.

Mrs Smyth, who was 35, and her three-year-old daughter Bethany died following a two-vehicle collision between a quad bike, on which they were travelling, and a tractor on Tuesday afternoon.

Hannah (5), the eldest of the couple's two girls, was recovering last night, having been treated at the scene of the accident on the Whitepark Road on the outskirts of Ballycastle, before being airlifted to hospital.

Rev Stanbridge said Ryan, who was at his daughter's bedside, knew the freak accident had changed his life for ever.

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Flowers and a child’s toy left near the scene of the crash

Flowers and a child’s toy left near the scene of the crash

Photopress

Flowers and a child’s toy left near the scene of the crash

The minister described the Smyth family as cherished members of his congregation.

"Ryan, Clare, Hannah and Bethany are much-loved members of our church," he said.

"What happened on Tuesday was a tragic accident that has changed a family for ever.

"In making this statement, I have spoken to Ryan, who is at his daughter Hannah's bedside in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast. He would like express his thanks for the prayers of everyone, especially those in Ballycastle, and asks that people continue to pray for wee Hannah.

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Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany

Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany

Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany

"He has also asked me to express his deep appreciation and thanks to all the emergency services who attended the scene, to the doctors and nurses in the Causeway Hospital and the surgical team in the Royal, where Hannah is now."

The minister said that his colleague, the Rev Alan Buick of Dunluce Presbyterian Church, had been in touch to offer his condolences and sympathy to the family.

"Clare was a much-loved and esteemed leader and officer of 357 Dunluce Presbyterian Girls Brigade for the past 15 years and she will be sadly missed by all the girls and leaders," he added.

"As a church family, we are mourning Clare and Bethany's passing, but our resolve in Christ Jesus is to keep Ryan, Hannah and the wider family circle in our prayers and assure them of our love and support in the difficult days and months ahead."

Rev Stanbridge said that Ryan "has asked that he and the family are given space at this time, so they can focus on Hannah".

Incoming Ulster Farmers' Union president Victor Chestnutt said the accident, which involved two local families, had sent shockwaves through the community.

"This is a time for expressing sympathy to the family," Mr Chestnutt added.

"This was two well-known families and neighbours and it's going to be extremely difficult for them.

"The heart has been ripped out of the Smyth family and the other family has to deal with being involved in that accident.

"Our hearts go out to both families because they are both devastated.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Clare's husband Ryan and their little girl Hannah, who is in hospital. We hope and pray that she makes a recovery.

"We are thinking of Ryan's father Gregory and Clare's mother and sister, whose worlds have been torn apart."

Mr Chestnutt said the community would rally round the families involved.

"They are suffering an unimaginable grief that not many people will ever understand," he added.

The ambulance service said it sent two rapid response paramedics, three emergency crews, one doctor and two ambulance officers to the incident.

The PSNI and coastguard also assisted.

The Whitepark Road has since reopened and police have appealed for witnesses or anyone with dashcam footage to contact officers.

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