29/03/2010

Road Death Tragedies Return To NI

It has been a weekend of tragedy on NI roads with a father-of-six, named as Peter Francis Devlin, killed after the car he was travelling in was in collision with a lorry on the Belfast to Downpatrick road.

Tributes have been paid to the 63-year-old Kilcoo man who had been going home after visiting a friend in Crossgar on Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, on Saturday night, 45-year-old Martin Walls, from nearby Hilltown, was knocked down while walking along the Dublin Road towards Rathfriland and the death of a female motorcycle passenger in Glengormley at 11am on Sunday brought to three the weekend's total road fatalities.

The 49-year-old woman, who was travelling on the Hightown Road, is believed to have been a passenger on the motorbike.

A PSNI spokesman said the victim would not be named until her family were informed of her death.

Police have appealed for witnesses to Sunday's incident to come forward and have asked anyone who saw a blue/grey Vauxhall Zafira at the entrance to St Enda's GAA club to get in touch with them.

The driver of the car which hit Mr Walls was also taken to hospital but his injuries are not thought to have been life-threatening.

The driver of the lorry which collided with the car in which Mr Devlin's was travelling was also treated for shock alongside his passenger but neither was injured.

The SDLP councillor for the Kilcoo area, Peter Fitzpatrick, said both dead men were popular local people who will be sorely missed throughout the area.

"I knew both of these men well and was so shocked and saddened to hear of their deaths," he said.
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"As well as sending my sympathies to the families of the victims I would also like to offer my thoughts for the drivers in both incidents."

Speaking about Mr Walls' death just after 10pm in the village, Mr Fitzpatrick said, "It is a terrible thing to lose a family member in this way.

"This was a genuine traffic accident in that it was basically unforeseeable and in the moment of tragedy unavoidable, and I wish the injured party a speedy recovery."

The SDLP leader and MLA for South Down, Margaret Ritchie has meanwhile called for an investigation into the accidents.

"I would urge Roads Service personnel to investigate both of these incidents as a matter of urgency to ensure that such tragedies do not occur again and any lessons that can be learned are implemented as soon as possible."

In another incident on Saturday morning, three lanes of the M2 were closed for a time when a man was seriously injured after being hit by a car.

It is thought the man, who was later taken to hospital, had stopped his car on the hard shoulder and stepped outside when he was hit by another car.

During February, with very bad winter weather slowing normal traffic and forcing drivers to take greater care, there were no roads deaths at all in NI.

However, the three tragedies at the weekend now bring the total number of deaths on NI's roads this year to 11.

Across the border, a man in his 20s has been killed after being struck by a car in Kilarney.

Gardai in Killarney are investigating the fatal road traffic collision, which occurred on Woodlawn Road, Killarney, on Sunday.

See: No February NI Road Deaths

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