A YOUNG man chased a joyrider through Blackpool Shopping Centre today following a crash that left an elderly woman in need of medical attention.
The joyrider crashed into two vans before smashing into a car driven by an elderly woman who was later taken to hospital with injuries.
He then sped through a junction, mounting the footpath and crashing into the barrier in front of Bank of Ireland in Blackpool.
A Cork man whose van was caught up in the smash pursued the driver after he attempted to escape.
He described the encounter with the joyrider, saying: “I parked up and saw a car stalling. He hit my van but when I looked out the window he was driving away.”
The juvenile had then tried to escape on foot after speeding through a junction and crashing.
“If there had been someone at the junction they would have been dead because he wasn’t stopping for anyone.
“A member of the public opened the door. As soon as the car door was opened he got out and ran and I happened to start running after him. I was angry that he was trying to get away with it after causing so much damage.”
The man, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed concern for the elderly woman whose car was hit.
“My first thought when I saw him was anger. He was after hitting my van. I just wanted to catch up with him and make sure it got fixed. Then I saw that poor woman get a smack in the car and I was worried for her. It looked like her car had been hit quite badly.”
The young man recalled how gardaí eventually caught up with the juvenile.
“There wasn’t much resistance as around five or six gardaí had come to arrest him. He looked young and like he was on drugs.
“My main hope now is that he gets the help he needs, especially with how rife drugs are in this country.”
Meanwhile, staff from surrounding businesses had been offering assistance to the elderly woman affected.
These included four pharmacist workers from Boots who were on hand to administer first aid.
Store manager of Boots Blackpool, Maria Sheehan, said it wasn’t the first time staff have helped a member of the public.
“We are healthcare professionals and are always there to help.
“I’ve known pharmacists in Wilton who have walked across to Cork University Hospital with a customer. It’s what a pharmacist does.”
Onlooker Nicole Ambrose from Knocknaheeny also described the events of today.
“I got a fright obviously,” she said.
“I was just going shopping for my mum and dad and that was when I spotted the robbed car. My friend died in a car crash a few years ago and seeing the car being taken away brought back memories. This is ridiculous and shouldn’t have happened. Someone could have been killed.”
Speaking to The Echo, local councillor Ken O’Flynn, who saw the incident unfold, said it was a miracle no one was killed.
“We are all in shock,” Mr O’Flynn said.
“One thing that really shone through was the great community spirit that is here in Blackpool, everyone helped out and a local young man from Dublin Hill apprehended the joyrider after he crashed while his friend called the gardaí.”
He went on to thank the shopping centre staff who he said went above and beyond to ensure everyone was alright after the incident.
“I can’t thank them enough and that young man is a credit to his family for catching that driver and staying with him until the gardaí arrived.”
A woman, who is thought to be in her 70s, was taken by ambulance to the hospital to be treated for shock and other injuries.
A statement released by the Garda Press Office stated: “Gardaí have arrested a juvenile in his mid-teens in relation to a number of traffic collisions in the Blackpool area.
“The car he was driving, which is believed to have been stolen from the Shandon Street area of Cork city, was involved in a number of road traffic collisions in the Blackpool area shortly before midday. A woman received non-life threatening injuries as a result of one of the collisions and has been brought to Cork University Hospital.
“A juvenile was arrested following the collisions and is currently detained at Mayfield Garda Station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984.
“Gardaí are appealing for witnesses or anyone who may have camera footage of the incident to contact them.”
If anyone in the area notices any damage caused to their vehicle as a result of this incident they are asked to contact Watercourse Road Garda Station on 021-4558260.