Northern Ireland

Colin Glen Forest Park: Two youths arrested after scrambler crash leaves woman critical

A police cordon was set up at the scene of the crash Image copyright Presseye
Image caption A police cordon was set up at the scene of the crash

Two youths, aged 15 and 17, have been arrested after a woman was critically injured in a scrambler motorbike crash on the outskirts of west Belfast.

The collision happened near Mila's Lake in Colin Glen Forest Park.

The mother of three was walking her dog along a pathway near the lake when she was struck by the scrambler.

Community workers have said it was not the first serious incident involving motorcycles and quads in Colin Glen.

'Fighting for her life'

Michael George, who knows the woman's family, said the woman, who has three children under 11, is "fighting for her life".

"They're a lovely, young family and it's a tragedy for her two daughters, son and husband," he said.

Fr Vincent Cushnahan said the family's immediate concern was to be by the woman's side "to care for her and assure her of their love".

"The parish community will of course keep that family, that young mother, that wife, in their prayers," Fr Cushnahan said.

"Our prayers and support are very much with the family involved."

Image caption Community safety officer Michael George, who knows the woman's family, said the mother of three young children is 'fighting for her life'

He added: "It's very incumbent of parents and people responsible for our young people, as well as the young people themselves, to instil in every one's heart a respect for the local community and particularly to remain safe, not just for themselves, but for other people who are using our public spaces."

PSNI Supt Melanie Jones said: "My message to the public is that this is a live investigation, we have a woman who still remains in a very critical condition.

"And I would appeal to anybody who saw any off-road bikes being used in that park at around 6:00pm last night in the run up to this tragic collusion to please come forward with any information you may hold."

She added: "I want to take this opportunity to remind the public that, while the use of such motorised vehicles as a leisure activity can appear to be both exciting and fun, if used inappropriately, can be dangerous and against the law.

"We are aware of concerns in the local community about people riding scramblers and quads recklessly, especially in public parks, and I want to assure the public that we will take action to curb the nuisance and dangers associated with the use of off-road scramblers and quads in public areas."

'Ongoing problems'

Mr George, a community safety officer, said there are ongoing problems with the use of scramblers in Colin Glen, but that it is difficult for the PSNI to intervene.

The west Belfast man appealed to the justice minister, Claire Sugden, to introduce more robust legislation "to stop people who aren't licensed getting control of these things".

He added: "We're sick of trying to appeal to parents' better judgement - they listen for a while, but come Christmas, they're buying these death machines.

"They're putting walkers' lives at risk, but they're also putting their own children in danger.

"We're being totally overrun with these scramblers and we need designated areas."

Image caption There have been appeals for more robust legislation to tackle the illegal use of scramblers

Speaking on BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, west Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann said: "These bikes should never be used outside designated areas, but children and young people are using them in built up estates and parks.

"There is legislation there, but we need to look at how robust that legislation is and how it can be enforced.

"The PSNI do know the people who are riding these bikes in this reckless fashion. They need to go and speak to the families of those people and confiscate them so that we don't have another tragedy like this, where a young mother is fighting for her life - it's heartbreaking."

The chief executive of the Colin Glen Trust, Colin O'Neill, expressed shock at what happened.

"It's dreadful and our thoughts are with the person who's been struck and her family."

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