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Shopping trip that ended in schoolgirl’s death

A family shopping trip turned to tragedy after a 16-year-old girl was struck by a bus in Belfast city centre, an inquest has heard.

Ciara Park from Margaretta Park in Dunmurry died of multiple injuries around 40 minutes after stepping in front of the bus at Castle Junction on November 11 2008.

She was trapped underneath for around 20 minutes before emergency services were able to use airbags placed underneath the bus to release her. The youngster remained conscious but suffered a cardiac arrest on her way to hospital, dying shortly afterwards.

Her heartbroken father Gerard told Belfast Coroner’s Court yesterday that he had been out shopping with his daughter and 11-year-old son Steven.

“Ciara asked me for £20 to go and get herself a CD in HMV. She told me she was going to buy an umbrella from Primark as she didn’t want to get her hair wet. She was always worried about getting her hair wet.”

He heard the commotion of the aftermath and rushed to the scene but couldn’t get close to where his daughter was lying. “I had a gut feeling it was Ciara,” Mr Park said.

He followed the ambulance in a police car but Ciara had died by the time they reached hospital.

George Johnston, a senior scientific officer at Forensic Science Northern Ireland, said Ciara's umbrella may have blocked her view. It would have taken her little over a second to step in front of the vehicle, he said.

“There would have been little likelihood if any that a driver would have been able to initiate a reaction before she was struck,” he added.

Coroner Brian Sherrard said Michael Morris, who was driving the bus, did not attend the inquest because of “continuing ill health due to the trauma of the incident”.

In his statement, Mr Morris said he was driving at 10mph and had slowed to 5mph to negotiate a speed ramp: “I suddenly saw a flash of black at the very front nearside of the bus and almost simultaneously I heard a bang.”

He stopped the bus and got out. “I heard a lady shouting, ‘there’s a girl there’. Then I got into a state of shock.”

Mr Morris added: “I was left extremely distressed and upset by this accident and my deepest sympathies go out to the family of the young girl.”

In his findings, Mr Sherrard said Ciara was hit by a bus as she crossed Royal Avenue at Castle Junction.

Ciara, a 16-year-old pupil of St Dominic’s High School in Belfast, died just 40 minutes after she was hit by a bus in Belfast city centre on a dark and wet November evening in 2008.

The teenager, who wanted to be a teacher, had been crossing the road on her way to buy a CD in HMV.

At the close of an inquest into the tragedy yesterday, Coroner Brian Sherrard expressed his sympathy to Ciara’s family.

Belfast Telegraph