A six-year-old boy and the driver of a Donegal schoolbus came within millimetres of death when a plank of wood suddenly pierced the windscreen.

A busload of schoolchildren had a close brush with death in Killea on Wednesday when a plank of wood and a ladder flew off a passing trailer and through the window. The plank missed the driver of the bus by inches and slammed against a seat occupied by a six-year-old boy.

Driver Brendan McGee was dropping home children, aged between six and 12, from An Leanbh Iosa National School in Carrigans when a plank of wood crashed through the window of his bus – narrowly missing the driver and a six-year-old boy.

McGee was stopped at the roadside at Garshuey, between the border villages of Killea and Newtowncunningham, when the wooden plank and a ladder flew off a passing trailer.


“It is just a miracle. That plank could have killed either me or one of the children and that’s not an exaggeration,” Mc Gee said.

The plank narrowly missed the head of a schoolboy in the seat behind McGee. The driver, who has been carrying out the same school run for 30 years, said: “If that had been a bigger person on the seat, the plank would have hit him.

Split Second

“The wee boy is only six and was sitting right behind me. He said to me: ‘Brendan, I saw it coming and I was trying to tell you.’ He couldn’t get the words out. It was just a split second.

“It’s only later on that you think what could have happened. It was so scary. It was all a blur. You hear of out-of-body experiences and about watching things happen. I’d never have believed stuff like that – but that’s exactly what happened.”

The ladder pierced the top of McGee’s Ford Transit minibus while the horrified kids – four boys and a girl – watched the plank career through the window.

McGee said: “The children were showered with glass. The glass went right to the back of the bus. They were in total shock. You could see that by their wee faces.”

On Edge

The children were all back at school yesterday and McGee was back at the wheel.

He said: “I must admit, I was a wee bit on edge. People have been saying to me that someone must have been looking down on us – and they’re absolutely right. If you tried to recreate that, it would be impossible.

“It’s only when you think of what could have happened that you begin to realise how lucky we were.”

Freak accident

One of the children’s parents said it was purely a freak accident. “The driver was just dropping off one of the kids at the time. There was a bungee cord holding down the plank and the ladder and they just shot through the window of the bus.

“The driver was so lucky – if that plank had been any lower, it could have taken the head off him and I dread to think what could have been if any of the kids had been in the seat where it landed.

“They were so close to an absolute tragedy here. Someone must have been looking down on them.”

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