TWO children are in a serious condition in hospital today following a horror road smash which saw 15 people from two families injured.
The head-on collision happened in Kerry yesterday at 5.30pm at the top of a hill outside Farranfore on the main Killarney to Tralee road.
A mini-bus carrying eight children and two adults was involved in a head-on collision with a rented car in which two adults and three children, believed to be holidaying from the UK, were travelling.
The family in the mini-bus, which was also towing a trailer, are originally from Waterford but living in Tralee.
They were driving towards Killarney when the collision occurred.
Emergency services said the youngest child in the crash is only 16 months old while the oldest is 12.
The National Ambulance Service deployed 10 ambulances and two rapid-response vehicles to the scene.
Four helicopters, two each from the Coast Guard and Air Corps, also played crucial roles and were able to work from nearby Farranfore airport to transport patients to Cork University Hospital.
Three fire units from Killarney and Castleisland and a medical response team from Cork University Hospital set up at Bishopstown GAA club in Cork were also involved in the emergency.
Instant paramedic care was administered at the roadside, helping to save and stabilise the patients at the scene of the accident.
Two of those who were injured, one a three-year-old boy who sustained a head injury, and a nine-year-old boy who sustained head and abdominal injuries, were described as being “very seriously hurt”.
Many of the injured are said to have suffered fractured bones.
Eleven of the patients were moved to Kerry General Hospital and four to Cork University Hospital, which spread the number of injured across two bases to prevent overloading of resources at just one hospital.
The road was closed for several hours as gardai examined the scene and removed debris.
“We are blessed that nobody was killed here,” said Killarney councillor Donal O’Grady.
“It really could have been far, far worse and it is a miracle, really.
“Fair dues to the emergency services – they were on the ball.
“They landed the helicopters at the local airport which was only five minutes away and this helped them to react quickly to the situation.”
The accident occurred at a place known locally to be a notorious danger spot for road users.
There used to be a prominent sign at the bend warning traffic to slow down in the area, but this was removed a number of years ago.
Mr O’Grady called on the county council to do more to protect motorists and residents in the area.
“I’ll be looking for that sign to be reinstated tomorrow,” he said.