Prayers offered for brother and sister critically injured in Co Antrim road crash

Police at the scene at Staffordstown Road in Co Antrim where two young children were knocked down on Tuesday. Picture by Philip Walsh

PRAYERS were being offered last night for a brother and sister critically injured after being struck by a car as they returned home from school in Co Antrim.

Mary O'Neill (11) and her 14-year-old brother Fintan, were last night described as being in a "critical condition" in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The children were struck by a white Audi A3 car on the Staffordstown Road, between Randalstown and Toome, as they were were getting off a school bus to cross to their home on the Greenan Road, at around 4.40pm on Tuesday.

The car remained at the scene.

The children are pupils at St Patrick's College, Maghera.

The school said yesterday said it was "greatly saddened" by the news and appealed for prayers.

School principal Brenda Mussen said: "They're lovely children, they're very, very popular with their peers, very well respected in the school."

She said that Mary and Fintan were "just the kind of children you want to have in school".

"It's devastating news for the school community, we are very shocked.

"At this time I just want to ask everybody to keep the children in their thoughts and prayers as we are doing," she said.

"Every prayer counts at this stage."

The college also postponed an open night it had planned, as well as an open day on Saturday.

"We are working with the appropriate support services for our pupils and the staff," Ms Mussen added.

Meanwhile, the Education Authority (EA) last night said that officers from the EA's critical incident team were in contact with the school and "are on hand to provide any assistance that is required".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the children, their family, friends and wider school community," a spokeswoman added.

Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney, who knows the family, said people in the area were shocked.

"They were alighting from the school bus and in the process of walking home," he said.

"It is devastating for their family and they come from an extremely well-respected, well-liked family within the greater Creggan area."

SDLP councillor Roisin Lynch said the community had been left "devastated" by what had happened.

She said public representatives would now "look at road safety issues like the lighting on the road and the speed and the issue around school drop-off points".

"You are just devastated for them," she said.

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