`He smiled. There was a flash'

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The Independent Online
A Northern Ireland woman yesterday movingly described how soldier Stephen Restorick was smiling at her as he was hit in the back and fatally injured by an IRA sniper's bullet, writes David McKittrick.

Lorraine McElroy herself narrowly missed death or serious injury in the incident, for the soldier was handing back her driving licence when he was shot. She was struck in the head, possibly by the same bullet which killed him, and required hospital treatment.

Mrs McElroy and her husband were driving home when they stopped at a permanent vehicle checkpoint. She said: "With us going through the checkpoint so often, the soldiers recognise you, smile at you and have a word with you. That is exactly what happened.

"The soldier was smiling and handing my driving licence back to me when it happened. Straightaway there was what I would describe as a crack and a flash and there was blood pouring from my head.

"I actually thought I'd been shot. Then I heard the soldier groaning, he was on the ground beside my car. The first thought that came into my head was that I wanted to help him ... but there was nothing I could do."

Mrs McElroy said watching the soldier die was the saddest moment of her life. She said whoever fired the shot must have seen her sitting in the car, but had no regard for her as long as they killed the soldier.