24/11/2008

Weekend Road Deaths' Shock

A weekend of tragedy on the roads has stunned Northern Ireland.

Four police officers died in a single road accident early on Sunday morning while three other people have also lost their lives in separate crashes over the weekend.

With less than four weeks to go before Christmas, the tragic toll is likely to hit all the harder as numerous families are now left grieving their loss instead of celebrating as the festive season approaches.

It is understood the policemen were on their way to help a colleague when the accident happened at about 4am on the road between Warrenpoint and Kilkeel.

The two full-time and two part-time officers have been named locally as Declan Greene, Kenny Irvine, Kevin Gorman and James Magee - all from the Mourne area.

A police spokesman said there was "no indication that the deaths were terrorist-related" and that "police are treating the deaths as a tragic accident".

Assistant Chief Constable Judith Gillespie said last night that her "heart went out" to all the families who had lost loved ones as the result of the recent road crashes.

But, she said speculation about the cause of the crash which killed the four policemen was unhelpful at this stage.
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"There has been a lot of speculation about what did or didn't happen," she said.

"In my judgment, things happened so quickly that there was probably nothing they could do."

The deadly weekend toll started with the first accidents taking place on Friday when two men and a woman died after separate crashes.

One was in Co Antrim when a man died after being hit by a car near Templepatrick.

It happened on the Connor Road in Parkgate village at about 6.45pm.

Later the same evening, three cars were involved in a collision on the Forkhill Road near Newry at about 9.25pm in which a woman died, while another woman suffered minor injuries.

Later a man was killed in a two-car crash on the Ballykelly Road, Limavady at about 10.30pm. The driver of the other car was taken to hospital.

Also on Friday, a female pedestrian was taken to hospital with injuries after she was hit by a vehicle on north Belfast's Crumlin Road.

The woman killed in the crash near Newry, was 45-year-old Teresa McGovern who was from the area. The names of the other two victims have not yet been released.

One man has been arrested over the County Antrim accident.

A total of 98 people have died in road accidents since the beginning of the year.

(BMcC)

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