Young survivor of tragic crash making 'small but significant steps to recovery'

By Rebecca Black, PA

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

Hannah Smyth, aged five, was left seriously injured in a collision between a tractor and quad bike in Ballycastle 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 three-year-old sister Bethany and their mother Clare, 35, died on Tuesday.

The Rev John Stanbridge, of Ballycastle and Croaghmore Presbyterian Church, said Hannah's recovery is 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.

The tragedy sparked horror across Northern Ireland.

Rev Stanbridge said the family have 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."

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