Boy killed watching motor rally

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The Independent Online

An 11-year-old was killed and three members of his family injured when a rally car went out of control and ran into spectators today. The driver was believed to be taking part in his first race.

An 11-year-old was killed and three members of his family injured when a rally car went out of control and ran into spectators today. The driver was believed to be taking part in his first race.

The accident happened when a Vauxhall Nova left the road during a rally at Bennets Field, near an Army camp in Otterburn, Northumberland, at 10.30am.

The boy was standing at the side of a narrow road on the military training area when the car, one of 69 taking part in the annual Apex Cheviot Motor Rally, veered out of control.

Among the injured were a seven-year-old child, believed to be a cousin of the deceased, along with the grandfather and father of one of the boys.

Both men suffered "serious injuries," said Northumbria police.

Inspector Bill Went said: "The spectators were all standing on the side of the single track. The Vauxhall Nova appeared to have gone out of control on a bend, careered sideways, hit a pile of gravel and had become airborne before falling on spectators."

Five injured spectators were taken to Newcastle General Hospital, said Len Fenwick, chief executive of the Newcastle NHS Trust.

He said: "There was a seven-year-old child, who is in intensive care and who is critically ill. There are four male adults who were injured, one of whom is undergoing surgery."

The North-East Ambulance Service said an unconscious male with breathing difficulties and head injuries was airlifted by RAF helicopter to Newcastle General.

A boy who was unconscious and suffered head injuries was taken there, along with one patient with a spleen injury, another who suffered a minor back injury and one person had a fractured femur.

The driver and navigator of the Nova, who suffered from shock, were discharged from Hexham General Hospital this afternoon.

Assistant Divisional Officer David Anderson, of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: "We had to cut the fatality from underneath the car with spreading equipment, which works like a jack."

He added: "There are a number of walking wounded."

The driver of the Nova was said to be making his first start in a rally competition.

Ashley Reid, 34, of Aberdeen, himself a rally driver, told PA News: "This was a freak accident."

Mr Reid, who was not taking part but travelled to Northumberland for the event, said he had not witnessed the accident involving the driver, thought to be in his early 20s.

Spectators could gain access to the site by a number of public roads, he said.

"It's one of those unfortunate things. You could make no mistake at all but still have a problem.

"If this guy had misjudged his speed - but that is something we don't know - it only takes an untidy bounce to leave the track.

"I understand this was the lad's first ever rally."

Mr Reid said the cars travelled at speeds of 80-100mph along sections of the course.

Local hill farmer Richard Irving, who spoke to rally stewards after the incident, said: "It happened at a sharp bend where you go across a cattle grid. There's a 90 degree bend and it appears the car hit some stones and grass and rolled over.

"It's the most awful tragedy."

The rally, organised by the Whickham Motor Club, attracted competitors from across the country and it is understood the driver who crashed was from the north-east of England.

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