Rally tragedy mum tried to push young boy out of path of car


A MOTHER who was killed by a crashing rally car made a heroic attempt to push a child to safety a split-second before tragedy struck.

A witness to the horror said Joy Robson’s selfless actions almost certainly saved the eight-year-old boy’s life.

Joy, from Portree, Skye, was pinned under a Honda Civic which careered off the track and into spectators on a sharp bend during the Highland Car Club Snowman Rally, near Loch Ness on Saturday.

Witness Gary Donnelly has revealed he saw Joy, 50, try to push the boy clear rather than get herself out of the way.

Gary Donnelly's picture shows car passing within feet of spectators. Joy was fatally injured near this spot a few seconds later.
Gary Donnelly’s picture shows a car, not the one involved in the accident, passing within feet of spectators. Joy was fatally injured near this spot a few seconds later.


The boy was trapped under the vehicle but escaped without any serious injuries. Gary, 42, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, believes Joy saved him from the impact that fatally injured her.

The nursery assistant died later of her injuries in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

Gary, speaking for the first time about the tragedy, said: “It was the first stage of the race and some larger cars had already gone past us when the car came through the corner, seemed to hit a rut in the track and went into a barrel roll.

“It was coming towards us but the trees stopped it.

“I just saw the woman push a little boy out the way, and I think that saved his life.

“My wife was at the hospital later and she found out that the boy was eight. The boy’s family said Joy had pushed him when she saw the car.

“Joy was a hero, she pushed the boy, and by moving him she saved his life. She was a nursery nurse so working with children maybe it was instinctive.”

Gary added: “I would definitely say her actions in pushing the boy out the way and stepping in front of him saved his life.”

Gary said Joy had been pushed face-down into the ground and that he waited with her until medical help arrived.

He said: “I was the first on the scene. She was in a bad way but was still conscious and breathing and a doctor quickly appeared on the scene and took over in resuscitating her.

“We must have been there around 30 minutes waiting for an ambulance which we found out was about three miles down the road. It was pandemonium and nobody seemed to know what was happening.

“When the doctor took over we knew she was in safe hands, me and my friends left. We later found out she hadn’t made it.”

Gary Donnelly saw Joy try to push a boy clear of the car just before they were hit.
Gary Donnelly saw Joy try to push a boy clear of the car just before they were hit.


Joy is known to have been standing next to a man who was there with his own children. The group was standing behind a tree, believing it would be safer.

Around 20,000 spectators usually turn out to watch the various stages of the race.

Neither the driver, believed to be Graeme Schoneville – a leading 1600cc competitor from Lanarkshire – nor his co-driver was injured in the accident, which happened at around 10.30am.

Last week, Joy’s son paid an emotional tribute to his mum following her horrific death.

Jack Robson, 18, wrote on his Facebook page: “I didn’t just lose my mam, I lost a loving, caring woman. A best friend.

“You never know what’s around the corner in life but make sure you take your time and make the right decisions.

“Love her to bits and will always be in our memories.”

Last year, a man was left fighting for life after he was struck at Aberdeen’s Granite City Rally.

In 2010, driver Jimmy Girvan, 56, a former rally champion from Inverness, was killed at the Colin McRae Rally, in Perthshire.

A spokesman from Northern Constabulary said they were not presently aware of Gary Donnelly’s evidence.

He said: “It may be something that comes to light during a report to the procurator fiscal.”