Northern Ireland news

SDLP's Joe Hendron (86) 'thankful to be alive' after being knocked down

Dr Joe Hendron. Picture by Mark Pearce/Pacemaker

A VETERAN SDLP politician has said he is "thankful" to have escaped with just bruising and a damaged collarbone after he was hit by a van while crossing a road.

Dr Joe Hendron (86), who was elected MP for West Belfast in 1992 after defeating Gerry Adams, said he was probably partly to blame for what happened.

The accident took place in June in Balmoral Avenue, close to the former GP's south Belfast home.

While he is still attending physiotherapy in Musgrave Park Hospital, he insists he is "fine now" and "getting stronger every day".

Dr Hendon said he was "thrown up in the air".

"I was thoroughly enjoying my walk when I decided to cross a little lane in front of a van that was trying to get onto the main road," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I'm not sure whether I'd gone one step or two when the driver put his foot on the accelerator and the van came out at speed and threw me into the middle of the road.

"The driver braked immediately when he saw me.

"I landed upside down on my left shoulder, which took my weight and damaged a nerve, but it could have been much worse."

Dr Hendron added: "There's a lot of traffic on Balmoral Avenue and he was obviously waiting to get a clear run... but when I walked in front of him never in a thousand years did I think I was walking into trouble."

The father-of-four and grandfather-of-seven recalled the moments after the collision when he was "lying on the road for a good while as people gathered around me".

"There was an off-duty ambulance man who happened to be in the area and a young female medical student as well and they made sure I'd a makeshift collar around my neck just in case my neck was broken," he said.

Mr Hendron said the van driver, who was also badly shaken, visited him at home the day after the collision.

"He was very kind," he said. "It was an accident and I actually regret not walking round the back of the van."

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