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Church mourns deaths of mother and daughter in tragic and freak accident

by Press Association

A mother and daughter killed in a crash were victims of a “tragic and freak accident”, their minister said.

Clare Smyth, who was in her mid 30s, and her three-year-old daughter Bethany died in the collision between a quad bike and tractor on Tuesday afternoon.

Mrs Smyth’s other daughter Hannah, five, was critically injured in the crash at the entrance to their family farm on the Whitepark Road on the outskirts of Ballycastle.

Her father Mark was at her bedside in Belfast’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children on Wednesday.

Rev John Stanbridge, minister of Ballycastle and Croaghmore Presbyterian Church, 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.

Their minister 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.”

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