A tragic lollipop lady was today fighting for life after being mown down by a packed school bus as she helped youngsters cross the road.
Frail Audrey Williams, 79, had just escorted a group of five and six-year-olds across the road and was returning to the pavement when the bus ploughed into her.
Horrified schoolchildren on the bus, which was carrying over 30 secondary school pupils, heard a loud thud before Audrey was sent flying through the air.
The youngsters burst into tears before paramedics rushed to the scene and took Audrey to hospital, where she was last night being treated for life-threatening injuries.
Concetta O’Ware, 16, was on the bus headed for school when it struck Audrey outside Forehill Primary School in Ayr, Scotland at 8.55am yesterday.
Queen Margaret Academy pupil Concetta said: ”We were speeding around the corner and she was in the middle of the road.
”There was a loud bang, then she was lying in the road and her lollipop was under the bus.
”There were kids standing right behind her when it happened. They were just Primary 1 and 2 children and they were so upset.
”One little girl was clutching hold of her Barbie in floods of tears.”
Concetta added that the driver, who often does the school run, was exceeding the 20mph limit when he suddenly slammed on the brakes of the single-decker Dodds Coach.
But he was unable to stop and Audrey, who was just five minutes away from finishing her shift, was sent flying through the air.
A passing doctor administered CPR and paramedics spent 15 minutes treating her at the scene, before she was put in a neck brace and taken to Ayr Hospital, where she was yesterday in intensive care in a ”serious” condition.
Horrified youngsters at Forehill primary school have been spoken to by headteacher Sheena Templeton and offered in-school counselling to deal with the trauma of witnessing the accident.
Audrey, who has been a lollipop lady for 17 years, was well known locally and well-known for baking Christmas cakes for neighbours and taking flowers from her garden.
Close friend Jess Edgar, 52, said: ”Audrey used to help my eldest son cross the road aged five, he’s 22 now and she’s still a lollipop lady.
”She’s magic, she’s such a character and we often go walking with her dog Bracken, who she loves.
”She’s such a close friend and I just hope she’s all right.”
Audrey, a keen gardener and fiddler, is a widow whose stepchildren from her marriage to Bill are believed to live down south.
Her niece, Frances McGill, and brother and sister-in-law Wallace and Marion Allan, were by her side in intensive care last night.
No one has been charged but Strathclyde Police are making door-to-door enquiries and interviewing children and parents.
Audrey’s neighbour Joyce Richmond, 48, said: ”She’s always been out helping the children so everyone knows her even if they have nothing to do with the school.
”She’s a lovely woman, it’s just so terrible and everyone is very concerned for her.”
No children were hurt in the accident and the 55 year old driver, who was yesterday quizzed over the incident, was uninjured.
Sergeant Stevie White, of Strathclyde Police, said: ”Road policing officers have been carrying out a detailed examination at the scene all morning and at this time we are still working to establish the full circumstances surrounding the accident.
”We know that the children were being helped across Hillfoot Road to get to Forehill Primary and thankfully no children were on the road at the time.
”The bus was taking approximately 30 children to nearby Queen Margaret Academy, and none of these children were injured either, albeit all are extremely upset.”
The incident happened almost a year to the day that lollipop lady Catherine Gibson died after being hit by a lorry in Glasgow.
Mother-of-one Catherine, 59, was struck while on patrol near St Anne’s Primary school in Gallowgate on January 15.