Friday 23 March 2018

Mum leads tributes to 'beautiful boy' who died in road accident near school

School principal tribute to 'kind little boy whose smile could light up any room'

Clare Kelly and her six-year-old son Joshua who died after a car accident in Newtownards
Clare Kelly and her six-year-old son Joshua who died after a car accident in Newtownards

Lesley Houston and Claire Williamson

The mother of a six-year-old boy who died after a car accident in Newtownards has led tributes to her "beautiful boy".

Joshua Kelly, a pupil at St Finian's Primary School, was taken to hospital after being struck by a car on the Scrabo Road, near Model Primary School at around 3pm on Wednesday.

Witnesses, including an eight-year-old boy who saw the child seconds after the accident, were left traumatised.

Scores of people took to Facebook to express their sadness and offer condolences to the boy's parents.

Leading tributes Joshua's mum Clare Kelly said: "Yesterday my beautiful boy grew his wings. And I thank God for the 6 brilliant years I had RIP my wee bird."

The Principal of St Finian's paid tribute to the "beautiful, kind little boy" whose "smile could light up a room".

Mr Coulter said: "Joshua Kelly was a much loved pupil here in St Finian’s Primary School and will be sadly missed by the whole school community. 

"Joshua was a beautiful, kind little boy who was very popular with his classmates and the staff of the school.  His smile could light up a room and his bubbly, affectionate personality was infectious.

"There is a severe sense of shock and grief throughout our school. Trained staff from the Education Authority’s Critical Incident Response Team are helping to support the staff and children through this difficult time.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Joshua’s entire family circle and the St Finian’s school community sends them our sincerest sympathy and support."

The accident is thought to have happened as the boy crossed Scrabo Road near its junction with Windsor Avenue, which leads into the Scrabo estate. He was taken to the nearby Ulster Hospital in Dundonald but it was confirmed a few hours later that he had died.

Local Parish priest Martin O'Hagan also paid tribute to the young boy.

He said: "He was a bright, spirited son and grandson and pupil of St Finians.

"It would be our wish to express our deep, deep sympathy to Joshua's family at this very difficult time and that we are there to support them in any way we can.

"It is absolutely heartbreaking so we have to look out for all those who are caught up in the tragic event, family and wider community and the classmates we have to keep a little eye on them and in the years to come.

"It's a very tough time."

The Scrabo Residents Association offered their condolences to the family and raised concerns over the road.

It said: "We are all parents and grandparents and can imagine the pain that the parents must be feeling at this time.

"It is true that we have been asking for traffic calming measures to be made on the Scrabo road in front of the model primary school for a number of years now.

"We are concerned that the roundabout and traffic lights on circular road , with delivery vans, lorries and the high volume of traffic and parking issue at the front of the school

"We have met many times with local councillors, MLAs and the local MP, the roads services and the principal of the model school regarding these problems and we will continue to press for these matters to be resolved."

The road between the Mill Street junction and Scrabo Roundabout was closed for several hours as police and other agencies investigated.

One local woman said her husband and their eight-year-old son saw the boy lying on the road. She gave an upsetting description of what they had seen.

Gina Cully said her husband was too traumatised to speak to reporters and her son "couldn't get the image" out of his head.

"They saw the boy just after it happened," she added. "He was on the road with his school bag on the ground.

"My husband Craig doesn't want to talk about it and I can't stop shaking."

Residents of the neighbouring Scrabo Estate were shocked to hear of the tragedy as they returned home from work.

Customers of a local shop shared their horror at the news, with some saying it was "an accident waiting to happen" because of the speed of some motorists, coupled with the congestion at the Model Primary School.

"That road at school time is chaotic and they park without thought to others," said one woman.

Another added: "There are so many cars parked along there, right from about 2.30pm when they don't get out till 3pm and they're on both sides. You can barely get your car up the road.

"There's a big empty car park just up the road, near the shopping centre, but people won't park there."

Referring to the junction a few hundred metres from the Model Primary, a Scrabo man said: "People fly up that road every day and they don't even stop at the roundabout,"

Others added that at the time of the accident, the sun had been "very blinding" for motorists.

Dennis Hawthorne of the Scrabo Residents' Association said the local roads, especially the Scrabo Road, urgently needed speed ramps.

"We raised the issue with our local MP Jim Shannon because we've been calling for this for years now," he said. "It's about time something was done."

Another resident agreed, saying: "It's terrible that it takes something like this for people to notice and take action."

Mr Shannon said his sincere condolences were with the boy's family. "It's totally heartbreaking," he said.

"As parents we would die for our children and our grandchildren, and it's totally heartbreaking for any mother or father."

He also said he sympathised with the "distraught" driver.

Officers investigating the tragedy have asked anyone with information who has not yet spoken to the police to contact them on 101.

Meanwhile, a five-year-old girl was injured in an accident with a vehicle in Bangor at around 6.30pm.

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said paramedics were on the scene at the Lisnabreen Crescent area within minutes and that the child was taken to hospital.

Elsewhere, a motorist was hurt and 23 bus passengers escaped serious injury following a collision in Warrenpoint.

A man, thought to be the driver of a car, was taken to hospital but there were no further details of his condition.

All the bus passengers were described by a spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service as being "walking wounded".

Belfast Telegraph

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