Young girl played in front garden moments before car crashed into same spot
A shower of rain saved the life of a seven year-old girl after a car ploughed through a fence and into the garden she had been in just moments before.
Hannah McCready had been playing with her hula hoop in the front garden of her Derry home in the same spot the car finally stopped.
Her mother, Noreen, said she and her husband, Darren, only realised how close they had come to losing their daughter when the vehicle was moved from where it came to a grinding halt.
Lying below the car was the hula hoop Hannah had been playing with before a sudden shower of rain forced her back indoors.
The silver Vauxhall Astra crashed through the fence of the house in Ballymore Park, in the Creggan area of the city, on Sunday evening.
The driver attempted to flee from the scene, but he was stopped by locals and then later arrested by the PSNI.
Tearful at the thought of what almost happened her daughter, Mrs McCready said Hannah's guardian angels must have protected her.
"I am shaking just thinking about how close we came to not having Hannah with us today," she added.
"The shock didn't really hit me at the time, but that car really could have landed right on top of her if she had stayed in the garden for five minutes more.
"Hannah is seven and isn't allowed out on the street, so she plays in the garden along with her wee friends.
"Hannah had just come inside a few minutes when we heard this almighty bang.
"I didn't know what it was, but we looked outside and this car had crashed through our fence and into our garden.
"We ran outside and the boy who had been driving the car had jumped out and ran off, but other young people caught him.
"Before he came to a stop in our garden, he hit two other fences as well.
"We only realised just how close he came to killing Hannah when they removed the car and there was her hula hoop lying right underneath the car."
As the realisation dawned on Mrs McCready about her daughter's close encounter with danger, Hannah was determined not to miss school.
"Hannah was quite upset yesterday and me and her daddy were worried about reprisals for reporting this particular driver, so we kept her with us in our bedroom on Sunday night," she explained.
"She is fine now and was keen to get to school to be with her friends for their end of year party, so I know she will be fine.
"This is a quiet street, but it is off an area where there is a lot of young boys rallying around in these cars.
"After this crash, I noticed a lot more of them coming around here, so we were worried they would come after us because you just don't know what they would do.
"You would imagine crashing into someone's garden would put them off but it didn't. They were back at it again after midnight."
Republican councillor Gary Donnelly, who visited the scene of the shocking near-miss, described joyriding as a "massive problem" in the area.
"We have to be thankful that this time no one died, but that could very easily have been the case if this child had still been out playing," he said.
"There are other small children living in this street, and one wee girl in particular is quite unwell and she is stays in her garden to play.
"There is a massive problem here with some young people driving recklessly in these cars around the streets and taking scrambler bikes through the new walking park.
"It is only a matter of time before we have a fatality on our hands, so these young people who are doing this really need to stop it before that happens."
A police spokesman confirmed that one male was arrested after the incident. He has since been released on bail pending further investigations.