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Hannah Smyth (5) making 'small steps to recovery' after Ballycastle crash tragedy

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Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany who were involved in a tragic quad bike accident at their home in Ballycastle

Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany who were involved in a tragic quad bike accident at their home in Ballycastle

Clare Smyth and her two daughters Hannah and Bethany who were involved in a tragic quad bike accident at their home in Ballycastle

The five-year-old girl who survived the horrific crash that killed her Co Antrim mother and younger sister is still in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Hannah Smyth's mother Clare (35) and three-year-old sister Bethany died instantly after their quad bike collided with a tractor near their farm in Ballycastle on Tuesday.

Her father Ryan, who witnessed the accident, has been at his daughter's bedside since she was airlifted to Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.

Hannah, who underwent life-saving surgery after the collision, is due to have an MRI scan of her head and neck in the coming days.

On Wednesday night, Clare's devastated sister Michelle paid a visit to her niece as she continues her recovery in hospital, with her heartbroken father maintaining a vigil.

Rev John Stanbridge, a minister at Ballycastle and Croaghmore Presbyterian Church, has called for prayers for Ryan and his family at this difficult time.

He said yesterday: "I was with Ryan at the Royal Victoria Hospital today. I am pleased to report, that while these are very, very early days, Hannah is making small but significant steps in the right direction.

"The family have been astounded by the love and support that they have received from so many different quarters and the wealth of prayer across the Christian churches that is being prayed, which they are so thankful for. Ryan has asked me to encourage people to continue to pray and thank the wider farming community for coming together in different ways to support them at this time.

"The family is also painfully aware that it is not only their family who have been affected by this tragic and freak accident. They have asked that people pray for everyone involved."

In an earlier message to his congregation Rev Stanbridge said the consultant had said the next goal is for Hannah to have an MRI scan of her head and neck in the next day or two.

"This is to check her spinal cord and to examine the brain stem.

"All signs at this moment are good but the MRI will confirm a lot to the medical team and allow them to plan the next step in treatment."

The minister said that Mr Smyth, who's in his 30s, is "so appreciative of all your prayers".

He added: "Clare's sister said last night that she was so aware of the prayers being offered up for Hannah, Ryan and the family".

The crash happened on the Whitepark Road, close to the entrance of the Smyth family farm on the outskirts of Ballycastle, on the road towards Ballintoy and the Giant's Causeway.

Ulster Unionist Councillor for the Glens Joan Baird said the local community was heartened to hear of Hannah's progress.

"I'm very pleased to say that I've heard Hannah is recovering well and we pray that she will continue to do so over the coming days," she said.

"My thoughts are with Ryan and Clare's families as they come to terms with their terrible losses.

"My prayers are also with the family of the tractor driver involved in this freak accident.

"It is such a shocking event to have happened. Everyone in the community is thinking about them during these difficult days and nights."

A police investigation is under way and officers have appealed to anyone who witnessed the collision or captured the collision on their dash cam to contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1392 12/05/20.

Belfast Telegraph