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Father tells of school crash horror

PUBLISHED: 10:49 28 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:17 06 July 2010

THE father of a nine-year-old girl seriously hurt in a horrific crash in which a car ploughed into a group of schoolchildren has told of the terrifying moment he found out his daughter was involved.

THE father of a nine-year-old girl seriously hurt in a horrific crash in which a car ploughed into a group of schoolchildren has told of the terrifying moment he found out his daughter was involved.

Olivia Li is currently in the children's ward at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston after she was one of eight schoolchildren hospitalised in the smash in Worlingham, near Beccles.

The youngster suffered two broken legs, a broken collarbone and a chipped bone in her wrist in the incident on Friday afternoon.

Her father Kingsley Li last night told how he rushed to the scene to find his daughter Olivia being treated by paramedics and in considerable pain.

She had been trapped underneath the car which hit the group of children from Worlingham Middle School as they were out on a supervised walk around the village.

Mr Li said: “It seems like a dream, but it is not a good dream. You do not expect this to happen to your own child and as a father you just feel so helpless. You do not wish for anyone to go through this. It is dreadful. I am just so grateful she is alive.”

Five children are still in hospital after a blue Nissan collided with them near All Saints Church in Lowestoft Road shortly before 2pm.

The class of Year Five pupils were on a supervised walk around the village and were on the pavement when the crash happened.

Six ambulance crews, firefighters, and an RAF helicopter were sent to the scene while the nearby funeral of a 21-year-old man was temporarily halted as mourners rushed to help free those trapped under the car. A man on his way to the funeral was one of those injured.

Mr Li said: “I heard the helicopter and the ambulances, but I didn't think it would be anything to do with me. Then I got a call from the middle school telling me to go down to the church because there had been an accident.”

Mr Li's wife Claire works as a teaching assistant at Beccles Middle School and was already on her way to the scene.

“When I got there the road was already closed and there were lots of crying mums about,” Mr Li said.

“A policeman tried to stop me, but I told him that I had got a call from the school. He asked me my name and then I saw Claire waving to me. It was mayhem down there. It was absolutely horrendous.

“Olivia was one of the kids that had been under the car. When I got there she had been pulled out and was by the back wheel on the driver's side. She was in a lot of pain, but she was conscious. The doctors were already around her and needles were in her arm.

“Her face and arms were covered in engine oil and she had grass in her hair and grazes all over her shoulder.”

Mr Li said Olivia was rushed to hospital where teams of doctors were waiting.

“The first thing they did was put her in theatre and put her to sleep to try to align the bones,” he said. “Her legs are in traction at the moment and she may need surgery. She will be in hospital for six weeks.

“She has two broken legs. They are broken in five places. She has broken her right collarbone and chipped a bone in her wrist, where she has an old break.

“Olivia remembers everything. She remembers the car hitting her from behind and she remembers going under the car and being pulled out. As a parent you feel so helpless. I just want to cuddle her, but I can't because she has a broken collar bone.”

It is understood that another child, a boy, has suffered a broken hip or pelvis, and another girl has facial injuries.

Mr Li said that his wife was coping okay but that it had been a very tough time. The couple who live in Pepys Avenue, Worlingham, have another daughter Ivanna, 11, and are taking it in turns to stay with Olivia.

Mr Li praised the emergency services for their efforts, saying they did a “brilliant job”. He also thanked local people for their messages of support and cards.

Olivia, who was described by her father as “lively and sporty,” will have an X-ray today (Monday) to determine whether she will need surgery.

A 40-year-old woman from Lowestoft who was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving has been released on police bail and is due to return to Lowestoft police station on November 6.

Suffolk police are appealing for any witnesses or anyone with any information about the crash to contact PC Paul Carr of the serious collision investigation team on 01473 613500.

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