Girl (5) making ‘small steps’ to recovery after crash claims lives of mother and sister

Clare Smith (30s) and Bethany (3) were killed in collision between quad bike and tractor

The young victim of a tragic crash which claimed the lives of her mother and sister is making “small but significant steps” to recovery, a local church minister has said.

Hannah Smyth (5), was left seriously injured in a collision between a tractor and quad bike in Ballycastle, Co Antrim earlier this week. She was airlifted to Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast following the incident on the Whitepark Road, in which her sister Bethany (3) and their mother Clare (35) died on Tuesday.

Rev John Stanbridge, of Ballycastle and Croaghmore Presbyterian Church, said Hannah's recovery was moving in the right direction.

“I am pleased to report, that while these are very, very early days, Hannah is making small but significant steps in the right direction, which is good news,” he said.

Rev Stanbridge said the family had been astounded by all the support they have received, and said the girls’ father Ryan asked him to issue thanks on their behalf.

“The family have been astounded by the love and support that they have received from so many different quarters and the wealth of prayer across the Christian churches that is being prayed, which they are so thankful for,” he said.

“Ryan has asked me to encourage people to continue to pray and thank the wider farming community for coming together in different ways to support them at this time.

“The family is also painfully aware that it is not only their family who have been affected by this tragic and freak accident. They have asked that people pray for everyone involved.”

In an earlier statement, Rev Stanbridge said: “Ryan, Clare, Hannah and Bethany are much loved members of our church.

“What happened on Tuesday was a tragic and freak accident that has changed a family forever.

“In making this statement, I have spoken to Ryan, who is at his daughter Hannah’s bedside in the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Belfast, and he would like express his thanks for the prayers of everyone, especially those in Ballycastle, and asks that people continue to pray for wee Hannah.

“He has also asked me to express his deep appreciation and thanks to all the emergency services who attended the scene, to the doctors and nurses in the Causeway Hospital and the surgical team in the Royal, where Hannah is now.”

Mr and Mrs Smyth were married for 15 years.

Rev Stanbridge said Mrs Smyth had been a "much loved and esteemed" leader and officer of 357 Dunluce Presbyterian Girls Brigade for the last 15 years.

“She will be sadly missed by all the girls and leaders,” he added.

“As a church family we are mourning Clare and Bethany’s passing, but our resolve in Christ Jesus is to keep Ryan, Hannah and the wider family circle in our prayers and assure them of our love and support in the difficult days and months ahead.” – PA