A QUIET country lane overlooking a picturesque lough in east Antrim was the scene of a shocking tragedy yesterday morning.
Police confirmed that one child had died and another was fighting for their life in hospital after a horrific incident at the isolated farmhouse on Bankhall Road in Magheramorne, which is around a five-minute drive from the village of Ballycarry.
The mother of both children was also in hospital receiving treatment for her injuries.
Neighbours reported hearing two helicopters, one understood to be the charity air ambulance, landing in a field beside the farm at around 10am before police officers sealed off the scene shortly after.
A large police presence was at the scene as forensic officers were seen going in and out of the family home.
Police struggled to deal with the level of media interest, with cars strewn all along the lane.
Neighbours were shocked to hear of the tragedy that had unfolded, with many keen not to give their names to journalists. However, one neighbour said that when he returned from dropping his granddaughter off at nursery he was confronted by the air ambulance landing.
“I saw the chopper landing and then a second one arriving. I think it was around 10am and then police came and blocked the road,” he said.
“It is just tragic, that young children are involved. It is just such a sad thing, our house is in shock.”
Tommy Kernohan, who lives around 200 metres down the road from the farmhouse, said the family had moved in some time over the past year and had been renting the house from the previous people who lived there. It is understood the couple who own the house have moved away from Northern Ireland and have been renting out the home and farm.
One woman, who lives close to the farmhouse, said the family “keep themselves to themselves”, but described seeing two “beautiful children” walking up and down the lane.
“You don’t expect something like this to happen in a quiet area like this,” she said. “You normally only read this in the papers.”
She described the couple as “very quiet” and said they did not interact with neighbours very much.
One person told the Belfast Telegraph the mother of the family was a “lovely person”.
“It is just shocking news,” she added. “You just wouldn’t believe it.”
The mother is thought to be a nurse who works at a local hospital. Neighbours expressed hope that the second child, understood to be around 18 months old, will recover from its injuries.
Alliance councillor Danny Donnelly said: “It’s becoming clear that a very serious incident has taken place in Magheramorne.
“My thoughts are with the families involved. I’m grateful to our emergency services who deal with such distressing cases in a very professional manner.”