Lucky to be alive

Harry Keaney

Published 12/07/2014 | 12:00

The car being removed by crane from the Boyle River. Pic: Mary Regan.
The car being removed by crane from the Boyle River. Pic: Mary Regan.

Peter Hanberry is lucky to be alive. In fact, he believes he was all but two inches from death.

Peter Hanberry is lucky to be alive. In fact, he believes he was all but two inches from death.

The 54-year-old was walking on the bridge in the centre of Boyle when a Sligo-registered Audi car narrowly missed him before smashing through a stone wall and plunging into the river below.

A man and woman in their 80s who were in the car were rescued and taken to Sligo Regional Hospital.

The condition of the couple, believed to be from Ballina, was said to be non life threatening.

The frightening incident occurred just after lunch last Wednesday.

Peter told The Sligo Champion: "I was walking along. I was nearly killed.

"The car shot across the road to the right hand side at speed and hit the wall of the bridge.

"It happened so fast I knew it was an automatic car.

"It then went into reverse.

"It came straight back at speed, knocked the wall on the left hand side and went down into the river.

"I was trembling when I saw it. It was a terrible bad experience. The car landed on its side in the river.

"The air-bags were out. A man from a coffee shop heard the bangs and came over.

"He jumped down into the river. I didn't go into the river because I am bad with arthritis.

"I would be no good to them.

"People jumped onto the car then and were trying to break the windscreen.

"An emergency crew arrived and took the lady out. They then cut the roof of the car and took the man out."

Peter, a native of Kingsland, Boyle, now living in Greatmeadow, added: "I had a lucky escape.

"It all happened so fast."

The car entered the river backways on the Scanlon's/Royal Hotel side of the town-centre bridge.

A second before, it had smashed into the opposite wall, knocking part of it.

Lithuanian native Minde Simkus runs the nearby Stone House Cafe.

He pointed out the couple in the car were very lucky the level of the river was so low.

He said: "I like to fish and I am always watching the water.

"A month ago the water was very high.

"If it happened then, those people would not be with us any more."

Minde recalled he was chatting in the cafe with his cousin who was leaving for Lithuania.

He continued: "We heard a bang and we wondered what had happened.

"A few seconds after we heard a second bang.

"It went bang, bang. We ran outside. I saw people running from the bridge and I saw a car in the water.

"I and my cousin jumped into the river. I tried to open the door of the car and the lady started screaming.

"She asked that people not leave the car and to help her. Three other men came then.

"Two guys jumped down on the car and started to break the rear windscreen, which was cracked.

"One man stopped and gave us a hammer and another man gave us a pool cue.

"The ambulance and fire brigade arrived and removed the lady through the door that was open. The car was on its side. They cut the roof off the car and took out the man. His shoulder was in the water.

"A crane came later and took the car out. It was all sorted out in an hour.

"Everyone did a perfect job, it was very professional work."

Both sides of the stone wall over the bridge were damaged in the accident.

The day after, local authority workers were retrieving stone from the river bed.

The road over the bridge was reopened but the footpath was sealed off.

Locals said it was also lucky no other cars were parked on the bridge at the time.

The bridge was built in 1864 to replace the old bridge, on which stood a statue of King William 111.

Sligo Champion

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