An eight-year-old boy who died tragically in a road accident has been described as “a happy wee man” who loved school and wanted to be a farmer.
Adam Gilmour, pictured, was with his mother Sarah Hanna and five siblings when they were hit from behind while walking along Loughill Road near the village of Cloughmills at around 8.30am on Tuesday.
A man aged 18 was arrested and later released. The other children are stable or have been discharged from hospital. One was not injured. Ms Hanna remained in hospital on Tuesday night with serious injuries.
TUV leader Jim Allister revealed after the accident that only last month he had written to the North Eastern Education Board on Ms Hanna’s behalf, raising safety concerns about her having to walk the children along a country road without a footpath to get them to school.
Adam’s aunt, Michelle Johnston, described her late nephew as “a cheerful playful lad who loved playing Xbox with my son”
She told the News Letter: “Adam was a happy, playful wee child but now he is gone. He was so innocent and so playful and full of joy. It is unreal.”
The child’s parents Sarah and Stephen are “not taking it easy”, she said.
“Adam was a big Chelsea supporter, as am I. Only last night we were talking about how they were doing and today he is gone.
“He went to Clough Primary School and he loved it.
“He always wanted tattoos when he got older and he wanted to be a farmer.
“He just loved tractors. He helped out with the cows on the farm where they rented a house.”
Ms Johnston added that his brothers and sisters “just cannot understand why he is away”.
“Kyle and Reece are very upset. They can’t understand. It is a shock to them. Adam and Kyle were very close.
“He was a happy wee man, well mannered. He loved football, he loved farming, he loved everything. But unfortunately he is gone.”
Ms Johnston said her sister has two broken bones in her back and internal bleeding but is conscious.
Ryan is in the Royal Victoria Hospital having a broken hip bone operated on.
Two-year-old Tyler, who was in the buggy, has a minor head injury but was able to be discharged from hospital, she added.
“It was a straight section of road, I could see no reason for a crash. They were practically in the 30mph zone.
“The car hit them from behind. It hit Adam first and then his mum.”
Bethany, seven, suffered a sore back and Reece, six, escaped with scrapes.
Kyle, nine, was slightly ahead of them collecting sticks and was not injured.
“He saw the car hit Adam first and then his mummy,” she added.
PSNI Chief Inspector Stephen McCauley said: “This fatal collision brings the number of fatalities on our roads this year to 69.
“The fact that a child has died on the way to school this morning heaps tragedy upon an already stark figure.”
At the scene, a wrecked pram, pink bag and other items belonging to the victims lay where they came to rest.
A damaged red car was nearby.
Overhead a police helicopter hovered while forensics experts in boiler suits collected evidence.
The chief inspector said Adam’s mother along with four of his siblings received treatment in hospitals in Belfast, Antrim and Coleraine for a range of injuries.
One child was not injured and is being looked after by a relative, he added.
Mr Allister, a North Antrim MLA, said Ms Hanna warned him of the danger weeks ago.
“The event is all the more distressing because just three weeks ago the mother called at my office and warned that because the education and library board was failing to provide transport for her children they would be ‘wiped out’ some morning on the road.
“The lady was particularly concerned that this situation was continuing into the winter months.”
Neighbours said Ms Hanna brought her children to the centre of the village every day for onward transport to schools in the wider area.
Mr Allister added: “I am most distressed that her words have proved to be much more prophetic than anyone would have thought.”
A local resident said: “They were lovely wee children, terribly good looking and well-dressed and well provided for.”
She added that the road had no footpath or lights.
The North Eastern Education and Library Board (NEELB) confirmed that a family with pupils attending Clough Primary School, in a neighbouring village a few miles from Cloughmills, was involved in the collision.
The education authority added: “The board is working closely with the school and our thoughts are with the family at this time.”
It said: “The NEELB can confirm that the NEELB transport service has received correspondence from Mr Allister and the board has been reviewing transport provision in the Cloughmills area.
“The board had agreed to meet with Mr Allister to discuss the concerns raised in his statement.
“As a result of the road traffic collision the board is focused on working closely with the schools and the family.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family at this time.”