Motorist arrested after nine children hurt in road crash

POLICE have arrested a woman driver after her car was involved in a collision with a party of school children

NINE schoolchildren were injured in an horrific accident today when a car mounted the pavement and ploughed into them.

A class of Year 5 pupils was walking along the pavement when the car crossed the road and mowed into the youngsters from Worlingham Middle School, near Beccles.

An ambulance service spokeswoman said three children were taken to the James Paget University Hospital, in Gorleston, with serious injuries.

Three children and a 21-year-old man were taken to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital with what have been described as non life-threatening injuries.

Three more children were taken to Beccles Hospital with non life-threatening injuries - they were released from hospital last night.

Ambulance crews dealt with 12 walking wounded. It is understood the most seriously-injured child suffered a broken pelvis and legs.

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A Suffolk police spokeswoman described all the children as being in a stable condition, though it was unclear whether any had been released from hospital.

Speaking at a press conference following the day's events, Mike Croft, headteacher at Worlingham Middle School, described it as a “tough day”.

“You cannot imagine anything worse than going down there and finding the children like that,” he said. “It was mayhem when I got down there, it is not a day I want to remember.”

He said a female teacher and a female teaching assistant who were accompanying the group of 18 children, who were new to the school, were shocked but unhurt.

“They were all nine. They had just started at the school a couple of weeks ago - they are our intake of millennium babies,” Mr Croft said.

“I don't think there are any life-threatening injuries but I don't know.”

The youngsters were walking past the church along Lowestoft Road as part of a curriculum visit.

Mr Croft said: “I understand that, while near the church, a car ran into the back of the group injuring some of the party.

“We immediately put our critical incident plan into use, providing staff and information for the emergency services, and we informed the local authority.

“We put ourselves at the disposal of the emergency services while at the same time ensuring every child was appropriately supported. Parents were informed as quickly as possible.

“Counsellors were called to the scene and subsequently attended the school. They will also be attending the school on Monday.

“We already understand how shocked the community is and we have received messages of support. At this point, our focus is on the children in hoping they make a quick recovery.”

The crash happened outside All Saints Church at about 1.45pm, where mourners were preparing to attend a funeral service at 2pm.

Some of the mourners close to the scene rushed to help free people from beneath the car.

One man said: “I just heard this sound like traffic cones going under the car, then I looked round and there was a man trapped underneath the wheel. The guy was halfway under the car. We picked the car up and got three or four children from underneath the car.”

Another man who helped lift the vehicle, said: “A lot of them had a lot of blood and injuries. Everyone was in shock - there was a lot of screaming.”

He added: “We were waiting for the funeral to start. We were just the other side of the wall. If the wall hadn't been there, the car would have hit the other people waiting for the service.”

It is understood that the man rescued from underneath the car was going to the funeral.

An ambulance service spokeswoman said the woman driver of the blue Nissan, which was the only vehicle involved, was in shock but unhurt.

A Suffolk police spokesman said that a 40-year-old woman from Lowestoft remained in custody at Lowestoft police station after being arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Nearby residents rallied to look after the uninjured children until their parents could collect them. One neighbour, who lives close to the scene, said: “I was in the house and heard the most horrendous sound and belted outside. I got blankets for them and brought them here just to keep them safe and away from the roadside.”

Six ambulance crews were sent to the scene and an RAF helicopter from Kinloss, in Scotland, that went via RAF Wyton in Cambridgeshire to pick up medical personnel.

Two of the casualties were taken to the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital by Sea King helicopter. Four Suffolk fire crews attended and helped paramedics with first aid.

Andreas Djiakouris, of the East of England Ambulance Service, said: “Every single one of our crew who were at the scene had their hands full from the minute they got there to the minute they left, and a big thanks goes to them.

“They did a fantastic job in traumatic circumstances and ensured it went as smoothly as it possibly could. Any incident involving children involves a lot of trauma.”

It is believed the funeral service - for Nathan Beglarian, 21, who died in a crash just over two weeks ago - was delayed but went ahead.

The road was reopened by 7.30pm

POLICE have arrested a woman driver after her car was involved in a collision with a party of school children, leaving three in a critical condition in hospital.

The driver of a blue Nissan, a 40-year-old woman from Lowestoft, has been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving following the incident in Worlingham, near Beccles, this afternoon which has left eight children injured.

The woman has been taken into custody at Lowestoft Police Station where she will be questioned.

The vehicle collided with eight children and one adult near All Saints Church, in Lowestoft Road, at around 1.45pm today.

An ambulance service spokeswoman said that three children are currently in a critical condition at the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston.

Three children and a 21-year-old man have been taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Two children are at Beccles Hospital where their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. Paramedics treated 12 walking wounded at the scene.

The woman driver was said to be suffering from shock.

Police say that the most seriously injured is believed to be a child who has sustained two broken legs.

Lowestoft Road remains closed. Officers from the serious collision investigation team have launched an investigation.

The collision took place outside the church where mourners were preparing to attend the funeral service of 21-year-old Nathan Beglarian, who died in a car crash on Wednesday September 9.

The children, who are year five pupils at Worlingham Middle school, were walking along Lowestoft Road on a Geography field trip.

Anyone who witnessed the collision is asked to call the serious collision investigation team on 01473 613500.