Belfast Telegraph

Classroom assistant fights for her life after falling from bus

By Amanda Poole

A classroom assistant from east Belfast is fighting for her life in hospital after falling from a school bus and suffering a serious head injury.

Caoimhe Prigent, from the Short Strand area, is being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast for a suspected fractured skull.

The police said the 24-year-old fell from the rear emergency exit of the vehicle on Loopland Road, also in east Belfast, shortly before 8.30am on Tuesday.

Officers are liaising with the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and are appealing to anyone who saw what happened to contact them.

Ms Prigent works at An Droichead (The Bridge) Irish language school in Cooke Street, just off the Ormeau Road in south Belfast, and is also involved with Short Strand Youth Club.

Short Strand resident and former Belfast mayor, Councillor Niall O Donnghaile, said everyone in the area is thinking of Caoimhe and her distraught family, who are maintaining a vigil by her hospital bed.

“It’s early days and her family are with her,” Mr O Donnghaile said. “Caoimhe is very well known and popular in the Short Strand area.

“The whole community is wishing her a speedy recovery. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.”

There are also around 100 messages of support and sympathy on the young woman’s Facebook site.

A number of children were on the school bus at the time Ms Prigent fell and they are being comforted by family and friends.

On Twitter, one woman said: “Thoughts with all at Scoil An Droichead” .

In a statement, Stormont Education Minister, John O'Dowd, expressed his concern about the incident.

“I am concerned by the news of a classroom assistant being injured in an accident in Belfast,” he said.

“The incident occurred during the transport of children to the school using the school's own private bus.

“This is a traumatic event for all concerned, including the bus driver and pupils who were present. My thoughts are with the injured staff member and her family and I wish her a speedy recovery.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal Victoria Hospital confirmed Caoimhe remains in a critical condition in the intensive care unit.

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