A GIRL who was knocked down by a car while on her way to school has returned home from hospital.

Canon Slade pupil Joanna Yates, aged 12, was hit by a car close to Broadoak Park Garden Centre in Worsley Road, Worsley, just before 8am on Friday, December 14, while on her way to school.

She spent two days in intensive care and doctors said she would be in hospital for about a month.

But she has defied the odds and made such an improvement that she was released on Christmas Day.

She is now continuing to recover at home — but her father, Ian Yates, said she has a long journey ahead.

It is not yet known when she will be able to return to school.

She has a fractured skull, neck and pelvis, and also suffered an ankle injury in the accident.

Mr Yates, aged 39, said: “She still has a long way to go with her physical rehabilitation and all her fractures will heal naturally, slowly and gradually over the coming months.

“The way that Joanna has tackled the challenges she has faced has been incredible, I'm so proud to be her dad. She has done it all with a smile on her face. I’m always going on about ‘positive mental attitude’ to my friends but we've seen it in action and the fact that Joanna was home for Christmas is a miracle.

“It was the best present we could have asked for.

“Her mother Wendy, brother Denholm and I have been overwhelmed with the love and support, messages, cards and gifts that we have received, we are very lucky and blessed to have such wonderful friends and family.”

Joanna, from Monton, Eccles, was hit by a purple Ford Ka driven by a woman.

A doctor and nurse stopped at the scene to help.

Mr Yates added: “It could have been a lot worse if they had not stopped. We don’t know who they are but we want to thank them.”

He also praised staff at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House where they were able to stay to be close to Joanna.

Police are appealing for anyone who saw the accident to contact them on 0161 856 4742.