Northern Ireland

Woman 'critical' after fall from school bus

A young classroom assistant remains critically ill after she fell out of a school bus in east Belfast.

Caoimhe Prigent, 24, from the Short Strand, Belfast, suffered a suspected fractured skull when she fell from the rear emergency exit of the bus.

The accident happened at Loopland Road at about 08:30 GMT on Tuesday.

She works for the Irish medium school, An Droichead, in south Belfast.

Former Belfast Lord Mayor Niall O'Donnghaile told Radio Ulster's Evening Extra that he knows her well.

"The family and doctors and health professionals are hopeful but it is early days," he said.

"I know her very well from childhood and she is a great character and a great wit. She is determined and stubborn and I'm sure she will be back on her feet."

Mr O'Donnghaile said everyone's primary concern was for Caoimhe to be back working on the bus and in An Droichead, which she loves.

"We are all wishing her a speedy and full recovery," he said.

The police are investigating the incident and officers are liaising with the Health & Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI).

In a statement, Education Minister John O'Dowd said: "I am concerned by the news of a classroom assistant being injured in an accident in Belfast yesterday morning.

"The incident occurred during the transport of children to the school using the school's own private bus.

"This is a traumatic event for all concerned, including the bus driver and those pupils who were present.

"My thoughts are with the injured staff member and her family at this time and I wish her a speedy recovery."

Ms Prigent is being treated at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital. Police have appealed to witnesses to contact them.