‘Numbness’ in Belmullet after three killed in car crash

Residents express dismay at lack of action over ‘death trap’ junction on N17

Three people – including a child – died after a crash near Claremorris in Co Mayo on Monday. Photograph: Conor McKeown

Three people – including a child – died after a crash near Claremorris in Co Mayo on Monday. Photograph: Conor McKeown

 

A “numbness” and “silence” has descended upon the Belmullet Gaeltacht community in Co Mayo following the deaths of three members of a family in a road collision near Claremorris.

Marcella Wilson (40s), a single mother who lived in Belmullet, her six-year-old son Sean and her mother Mary Ann lost their lives on Monday after the car they were travelling in collided with a northbound articulated lorry at Lisduff at about 1pm.

Ms Wilson is understood to have been driving the Citroen which was hit by the lorry. Her car had merged from the link road to Claremorris onto the N17 when the crash occurred.

The junction where the collision occurred was described as “a death trap” by Cormac Hanley, the owner of a nearby equestrian centre.

He said: “For years we have been demanding action on this stretch of road. Anyone emerging from the local side roads is in danger. I hate to say this, but this was an accident waiting to happen.”

“There are crashes there by the month,” said Mr Hanley. “A woman was killed there recently. It has reached a stage where local people are delighted to see Garda speed traps along the stretch of road.” He said a roundabout close to the Lisduff junction was urgently needed to lessen the dangers.

Fr Kevin Hegarty, a co-pastor in Erris, said the family had been on their way to Galway after reaching Castlebar. They had hoped to continue the journey by bus but missed the connection, Fr Hegarty told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.

He said he had known Marcella Wilson when he taught in the local secondary convent school and that her family was “well-known” and “well-liked” in the area.

“Earlier in the day in this football obsessed county, all the talk was of Mayo and the All Ireland next weekend and suddenly all of that stopped. A kind of numbness, a kind of silence descended upon the community,” he said.

The three victims died instantly in the crash. The driver of the lorry was treated for shock by medical rescue teams following the incident.

The community has seen a “difficult year overall” said Fr Hegarty. Just six months ago, the Irish Coast Guard’s Rescue 116 helicopter crashed off north Mayo resulting in the loss of four lives.

Tom Connolly, a Fine Gael councillor in the Claremorris Municipal District, also underlined the need to address the N17’s road safety record, adding that there had been “a number of serious accidents at this location over the years”.

At the first meeting of Mayo County Council after the summer recess, a minute’s silence was held.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Richard Finn said: “The whole community is heartbroken over the loss of life and the pain which family and other loved ones must now endure.”

Claremorris local councillor Tom Connolly said it was “shameful” that no road safety measures had been implemented at the Lisduff junction despite a series of collisions over the years. He added that children attending Gaelscoil Uileog de Búrca, which is north of the junction where Monday’s collision took place, were at risk of being hit by cars speeding on the N17.

“Lighting needs to be put up at the junction for people crossing at night and we need a roundabout or traffic lights to make sure the traffic slows down. It’s shameful when the NRA (National Roads Authority) won’t do something to protect the safety of the people.”

Cork collision

Meanwhile, in Co Cork, gardaí are appealing for witnesses to a traffic collision on the main Cork-Limerick Road that claimed the lives of two American tourists when their hire car was involved in an accident with a truck on Monday morning.

The man and a woman, both in their 60s, were among a party of four Americans visiting Ireland. They were driving from Mallow towards Cork when they went to turn off at the Waterloo Junction for the tourist village of Blarney at around 11am.

The two couples were turning off the N20 when they were in collision with a truck travelling from Cork towards Mallow and the tourists’ hired silver Skoda Octavia was pushed into the path of a Peugeot coming from Waterloo and seeking to enter on the N20.

The front-seat passenger in the Octavia, an American man in his mid to late 60s and a woman seated directly behind him, suffered serious injuries in the crash and both were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

The driver of the car, the husband of the woman killed in the back seat, received serious but not life-threatening injuries, while a woman passenger seated behind the driver – the wife of the front-seat male passenger killed in the collision – also received serious but not life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the truck, a man in his 30s, was also taken to Cork University Hospital but it’s understood that his injuries were relatively minor and he was treated for shock.

Gardaí were last night trying to confirm the identities of the four American tourists and believe that they may either be a brother and sister and their respective spouses or else cousins. All come from the Midwest and have been touring Ireland for a number of days.