FRIENDS of a girl who suffered a serious head injury when she was hit by a van were among those that helped look after her until emergency crews arrived at the scene.

The 14-year-old girl was hurt when she was knocked over on the A689 New Road, between Howden-le-Wear and Crook, County Durham, on Friday afternoon.

It is thought the girl was walking with friends when she stepped out into the path of the vehicle, a Volkswagon Caddy van, which swerved but was unable to avoid hitting her.

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The driver, described by police as a local man, called 999 and joined passers-by to assist the girl at the roadside until paramedics arrived.

She was treated at the scene by crews from the North East Ambulance Service and a doctor-led team from the Great North Air Ambulance (GNAA).

At that time her condition was described as critical and she was flown by the GNAA’s Guardian of the North helicopter to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, in Newcastle.

She was initially treated in intensive care but her condition improved and yesterday (Saturday, April 19) she was moved to a high dependency ward at the same hospital.

It is understood the girl's condition has improved further over the weekend.

Sgt Simon Kestle, of the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operation Unit, said: “We believe the teenager stepped into the road and the car took avoiding action but still couldn’t avoid the collision altogether.

“We don’t think the driver was at fault, he rang for help and assisted the girl.

“We’ve spoken to several witnesses, including the girl’s friends, who confirm this but would still ask anyone who witnessed the incident but who has not spoken to us to get in touch.”

Sgt Kestle said her condition was now stable, not life threatening.

Witnesses are asked to contact the traffic unit, based at Spennymoor police station, County Durham, on 101.