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Schoolgirl battles for life in hospital; Air ambulance to rescue after kick by horse.

Byline: Rob Pattinson

ASCHOOLGIRL was last night critical but stable in hospital after being kicked in the head by a horse.

Nikita Battye, aged four, was airlifted to hospital on Teesside, after being injured close to her home in the village of Butterknolle in the Durham Dales.

It is understood she had been tending to horses owned by her family when she was struck as the animal bucked out behind. Nikita is reported to have a severe fracture of the skull, although doctors do not believe she has suffered any brain damage.

The youngster is expected to remain in an induced coma for days to come to allow her brain time to recover.

Nikita, who is understood to be a pupil in Bernard Castle, was in her first week of primary school when the accident took place just after 8pm on Tuesday.

Last night, toys lay in front of a playhouse outside the family's Garden View home, while a child's clothes blew in the wind on a washing line.

Nikita's parents, named locally as John Battye and Tina Brown, are understood to have maintained a vigil at her bedside in Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital since the accident occurred at a paddock on the outskirts of the village. Last night, meanwhile, neighbours described the moment Ms Brown was seen sprinting from the paddock to call for help.

Mother of two, Diane Latcham, said: "We saw the mum running back into the village past us to phone the ambulance.

"Nikita is such a lovely little girl, she's so sweet. I know everyone is praying for her recovery."

Neighbours said Ms Brown carried her daughter back to the family home where she was treated by paramedics.

Fred Trotter, 83, said: "We just saw the ambulance land in the playing field at the school.

"We were told the girl had been kicked in the head by a horse. I think her mum had been feeding the horse.

"They carried her out of the house on a stretcher and she was lifted away." A spokesperson for the Great North Air ambulance said: "Paramedics and a doctor were quickly airlifted to the scene as soon as we received the report.

"It meant we were able to effectively take Accident and Emergency to this remote location, and provide gold standard care for a serious head trauma. "The doctor with the crew was able to administer a Rapid Sequence Induction, which meant the girl was able to begin her recovery immediately.

"We believe we were able to give her the best possible chance and this is testament to the crucial service we provide."

Butterknolle, between Bishop Auckland and Barnard Castle, has one shop and one primary school.

It is understood that Nikita's father has been the caretaker at the school, whose playing field is the only piece of flat land in the village large enough to easily accommodate a helicopter landing.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 10, 2009
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