Car ploughs through group of 12 children on bike ride through French holiday hotspot leaving seven seriously injured as witnesses describe ‘terrible images’

  • Three children were rushed to hospital in critical condition according to officials
  • Horrible scenes showed the damaged car sitting alongside mangled bicycles 

Children enjoying a leisurely cycle at a popular French holiday hotspot were mown down when a car smashed into their 12-strong group this morning. 

Seven kids were seriously injured with three left in critical condition after the 83-year-old motorist ploughed into the group that was cycling in single file in the opposite direction along Avenue de Coligny in La Rochelle, Western France. 

Horrified witnesses told of ‘terrible images’ at the scene, telling reporters from local outlet France Bleu La Rochelle that the kids could be heard screaming in terror and pain. 

One child had to be airlifted to the city of Poitiers further inland for lifesaving treatment, while two others were labelled an ‘extreme emergency’, local official Emmanuel Cayron said. 

Unsettling images shared on social media later showed the motorist’s yellow Renault Twingo sporting significant damage to the front bumper, with the twisted frames of several bikes lying on the concrete nearby. 

A huge contingent of 32 firefighters were mobilised for the incident along with seven ambulances and a smattering of police officers. 

Investigators launched to determine the circumstances of the accident after the elderly motorist tested negative for alcohol and narcotics administered by emergency services. 

She was initially arrested by police officers at the scene but was later released from custody and taken to hospital as she was not deemed to be in a fit state for questioning. 

The 12 young cyclists were taking part in an after-school bike outing, something they had done regularly. 

They were en-route to the Franck Delmas park, around 1.5 miles from the Bernard Palissy school and just half a mile from the city centre, when they were ran down by the oncoming Twingo. 

The mayor’s office said the children were accompanied by two activity leaders, regularly travelled on bicycles and had been travelling single file down the street when the errant vehicle travelling in the opposite direction ran into them. 

Officials are setting up a medical and psychological response unit in a La Rochelle municipal building to provide support to the children who did not suffer serious injuries, France Bleu reported.