Friday 20 July 2018

Woman loses five teeth and requires 30 facial stitches after bricks hurled at bus

Noel McAdam

A woman has told of her trauma after being hit with a brick in the face as she sat on a bus.

Belfast woman Sandra Major said: "At least it wasn't a child that was hurt."

Yet the 61-year-old mother-of-two also believes someone could have been killed in the attack on the bus as it returned through Dungiven on the way back from the Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry.

"There was no one in the seat between us and the driver. If it had hit the driver this could have been much worse," the Shore Road woman said.

"And if the brick had been a couple of inches higher I could have been blinded."

She appealed to those behind the incident: "Please just think about what you are doing."

Mrs Major revealed she may have suffered permanent damage to the nerves in her lip and cheek and will have to return to hospital for more treatment.

She had to get 30 stitches in her face, lost five teeth and her chin is pockmarked with cuts from shards of glass.

She has no memory of the moment bricks hit the privately-hired bus knocking her unconscious.

"I cannot remember it myself - I was just knocked out," she said at her Shore Crescent home yesterday.

She came round in a short time and remembers people "squealing and shouting and asking if I was alright".

"I was just sitting there and I looked down and my hands were covered in blood.

"I do feel traumatised. It is very sore and I have not really been sleeping since.

"Am ambulance came and took me to the hospital in Coleraine where I was until midnight on Saturday and then I had to go into the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald for 8.30am the next morning."

When the first brick to hit the bus struck Sandra, she fell against her sister, Margaret Ritchie (58) and their heads clashed.

Mrs Ritchie, who has scarcely left her elder sister since, said: "I actually saw stars and heard wee birdies chirping, the way they say you do.

"But I looked over and all I could see was Sandra slumped over the seat."

The sisters and other members of their extended family have gone to the annual Apprentice Boys Relief of Derry demonstration every year for the past 15 years.

"We started going then because we have a friend from Liverpool, Alan, and he was walking in the parade so we actually took the car the first times, but every year it has become more and more crowded so we began to hire a bus."

There were 29 on the bus last Saturday - 22 women and seven men, five of whom were senior citizens.

"We had a brilliant day," said Sandra.

"We have always stayed in the same spot to watch it in recent years. We do not go into the city, it is just too packed. And we have been coming through Dungiven every year with absolutely no problem. We had no reason to expect that anything would happen."

Mrs Major, who celebrates her 40th wedding anniversary next month, said: "I am angry about what happened.

"I don't feel sorry for myself. We were just passing the wrong place at the wrong time. But it should not have happened in the first place."

Mrs Ritchie said she was annoyed some Sinn Fein representatives had said there were buses where people were chanting and some playing music.

"There was nothing on our bus. Even the CD player was not on. We were just sitting there. I feel they are just trying to justify what happened and make excuses," she added.

Former Gallagher's worker Mrs Major believes, despite her ordeal, she will return to the annual spectacle and demonstration next year.

"I would like to think I would go. I would not want to think this would put me off," she said.

"But I have not been on a bus since and I am nervous about that. I will just wait and see how things are."

Visitors have been constant to the house since the incident, many of them bringing flowers and gifts.

"Come on in to the florists," Mrs Major joked as the Belfast Telegraph arrived.

But she also added: "I would just like to say to the boys that did this: please think again. It could have been a wee child that was hurt.

"There could even have been a death. Please think about what you are doing."

Belfast Telegraph

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