Ophelia: Tree falls in front of young mum's car in Belfast
A Northern Ireland mum revealed she was "half a second from death" after narrowly avoiding being crushed by a 50ft tree brought down by high winds as Storm Ophelia battered the province.
Lisburn woman Kelly Murray (27) said she is "still in shock" and has been left fearing what might have happened after the massive tree crashed to the ground in front of her car on Belfast's Malone Road yesterday.
Normally the young mother, who is an office manager at restaurant chain Boojum, would have been accompanied by her 14-week-old baby boy Zac.
However, by a stroke of luck, the incident occurred as she returned from her first day back at work after maternity leave, meaning the tot was safely at home.
Ironically, the near-miss happened after Kelly and other staff had been sent home early in order to avoid the worst of the weather.
"I was driving down the Malone Road and suddenly this massive tree fell right before my eyes," Kelly said.
"It just missed my car and I barely had time to react.
"I slammed on the brakes, but I flew right into it.
"I don't know how I managed to brake in time even though I was only doing 30mph, as it came out of nowhere.
"Half a second later and it would have been in the middle of the car - I would have been crushed to death.
"The tree was about 50-foot long and very wide. It was so big that it only just missed the house on the other side of the road.
"Thankfully the car behind me managed to brake in time too, so it didn't slam into the back of my car.
"Before it happened there was a bit of a breeze, but there wasn't a big gust of wind which shook the car or anything. There was no warning."
Incredibly, Kelly avoided serious injury and was assisted by residents and the police.
"People came out of their houses and a girl coming the opposite way let me sit in her car, then some guys came out with chainsaws to cut the tree so that traffic could get by. It was so big that it was blocking the entire road," she said.
"The front of my car is hanging off, I don't know if it will be written off, but apart from being in shock I wasn't hurt.
"It could have been a lot worse. I didn't even have to go to hospital.
"When my partner came down to collect me, he couldn't believe it. I think he thought it could have been a different story.
"I don't think it has sunk in for either of us yet."
While Kelly admits that the incident has left her shaken up, she said that she is grateful that her young baby wasn't in the car at the time.
"As soon as I got home I went over to give Zac a hug.
"The thought came into my head that I might not have seen him again," she said.
"He might have had to grow up without his mummy."