THE Police Ombudsman has launched an investigation after four people were hospitalised when a police car responding to an emergency was involved in a smash.
Witnesses said the police vehicle had its blue flashing lights and siren activated at the time of the three-car collision in the centre of Ballymena.
Another motorist is said to have been unaware of the police car as it travelled through a junction and both collided, as well as a third vehicle following.
It has not been confirmed whether the crash happened after the police car drove through a red light.
The PSNI officers had been responding to a report of another road traffic accident in Larne at the time of the crash. Both officers inside the vehicle and the drivers of the two other cars were taken to hospital. Their injuries were yesterday described as non-life-threatening.
The collision happened at a busy junction along Linenhall Street, adjacent to the Braid Centre, just before 9am yesterday. A shop worker told the Belfast Telegraph he heard the sound of a police siren passing his premises moments before the collision.
"I heard a bit of a bang and when I looked out the police car had been spun round in the road," he said.
"Within minutes two ambulances had arrived. The people involved all looked a bit shaken up but were able to walk away."
All three vehicles – the police car, a Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta – sustained serious damage, with the airbags in both civilian vehicles activated.
The scene of the incident was closed off throughout the morning. A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman's office said: "We have been informed and are making initial inquiries."
A police spokeswoman confirmed: "At approximately 8.50am today, Monday, February 17, a three-vehicle road traffic collision happened on Linenhall Street, Ballymena.
"Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were in attendance. It is not believed that anyone has sustained life-threatening injuries."