A mother and her six children have been hit by a car in County Antrim – just weeks after warning her family could be "wiped out" on the road.
The crash on Loughill Road, Cloughmills, on Tuesday morning (11 November), has left one child in a "very serious" condition in hospital and the woman with major injuries, according to local reports. Two of the other children were also taken to hospital.
In a tragic twist the mother had just three weeks ago contacted the Education and Library Board asking to provide transport for her family closer to her home instead of her having to walk down the notoriously busy road to get to Clough Primary School.
North Antrim MLA Jim Allister said: "I am appalled by today's tragic news from Cloughmills.
"The event is all the more distressing because just three weeks ago the mother called at my office and warned that because the Education and Library Board was failing to provide transport for her children they would be "wiped out" some morning on the road.
"The lady was particularly concerned that this situation was continuing into the winter months.
"I am most distressed that her words have proved to be much more prophetic than anyone would have thought.
"I wrote to the Transport Department of the North Eastern Education and Library Board highlighting the fact that she had to bring five children to meet the school bus in Cloughmills because the NEELB refused to collect the children close to their own home.
"The fact that this accident waiting to happen had been highlighted to the Education and Library Board and their inactivity continued lays responsibility on the NEELB as well as the driver involved.
"I am very angry and distressed that this situation was allowed to develop."
A child's pram was seen next to the road at the scene and a car with its windscreen smashed.
A spokesman for the ambulance service said: "While on their way to school some of the group were hit by a car.
"NIAS responded to the incident with four A&E vehicles and a rapid response paramedic. An ambulance officer also attended.
"The female patient was taken to Causeway Hospital in a serious condition and three children were taken to Antrim Area Hospital.
"The condition of one of the children would be described as very serious."
A spokesman from the NEELB said: "The Board is working closely with the school and our thoughts are with the family at this time."
One resident said: "It is really tragic that on the way to school this happens and it is so close to Christmas as well. The children are always so well turned out. They really are lovely wee ones."
Motorists are being advised to avoid Loughill Road which has been closed at its junctions with Main Street, Cloughmills and Lislaban Road while investigations are carried out.