Northern Ireland mum feared for life as firework exploded in car
A shocked Magherafelt woman said she thought she was going to die when a firework crashed through her car window and exploded beside her, setting her vehicle alight.
Mother-of-one Josephine Devlin (42) was waiting for her son in a hotel car park on Drum Road, Cookstown on Sunday night when a rocket smashed through the passenger side window and exploded beside the gear stick.
The device blew out the driver's window and showered her with sparks, filling the car with smoke.
Josephine was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital and had to endure a painful operation to have glass removed from her leg. She said she was lucky not to be blinded or killed.
"It all happened so quickly," she said. "I had left my son off to meet his friends and was parked up in the car park.
"Next thing I remember the car was full of fire and smoke, a rocket had come in the passenger window and exploded.
"The force of the blast was so strong it broke the driver's window as well.
"My automatic reaction was to cover my face. My arm and my leg got most of it.
"There was thick smoke everywhere. I remember thinking my car is on fire and I'm going to die.
"I thought I would never be able to get out of the car, blood was pouring from my hand and my leg.
"Thankfully there was a car nearby and they helped me, took me into the back of their car and called an ambulance."
Josephine was deeply shocked and believes she suffered a panic attack.
She was taken to hospital where doctors tried to remove shards of glass from her body and stitch up her wounds.
"They got the glass out of my right leg, but the glass in my left leg was so deeply embedded I had to have an operation the next morning. My hand and my arm were also badly cut with shrapnel and I hurt my neck severely with the force of turning away from the blast.
"I am just thankful that my 16-year-old son was not in the car when it happened. He was in the passenger seat just minutes earlier.
"It could have hit him in the face. It doesn't bear thinking about. I could have lost my sight or been killed. It's terrifying."
Josephine was released from hospital on Tuesday and is recovering at home.
The learning disabilities support worker said she will have to take weeks off work and can barely walk. She said she can't understand why someone would throw fireworks at a car.
"I know there are going to be scars on both of my legs," she says. "I am feeling very sore at the moment.
"I can't see the enjoyment of throwing rockets at a car. I know it wasn't intentionally thrown at my car, but I just can't understand the thinking behind it. They could have blinded or killed me."
Police say they are appealing for witnesses to the incident, which happened at around 10.45pm on Sunday.
They say a number of young people were seen in the area at the time.
On Monday at 2am, a firework was thrown at two men in the same area.
One of the men suffered burns to the back of his head after he was struck by the firework.
Police are investigating a link between these incidents and are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incidents or anyone who has any information that can assist with the investigation to contact officers in Magherafelt Police Station on 101 quoting reference 1829 29/10/17.
Alternatively, if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.