Two killed in Kildare crash as town prepares for festivities

Man in 20s and woman in 80s die, elderly man hospitalised, after car and motorcycle collide

The scene of today’s fatal crash on the N78 outside Athy, Co Kildare. Photograph: Michael O’Rourke

The scene of today’s fatal crash on the N78 outside Athy, Co Kildare. Photograph: Michael O’Rourke

Fri, May 31, 2013, 22:48

A young man and an elderly woman were killed and an elderly man remained in hospital last night after they were involved in a crash between a motorbike and a car on the N78 between Athy and Ballitore in Co Kildare.

The crash happened at a T-junction on a wide, gently undulating, straight stretch of road close to the M9 Dublin-to-Waterford motorway, about 4km from Athy.

A local farm worker said he heard a motorcycle going past at about 2.20pm and estimated it had travelled about a kilometre when he heard a very loud bang.

The motorcycle rider was not being named yesterday, as family members were being informed. It is understood he was in his 20s and was travelling from the Glanbia factory at Ballitore, where he was working, to his home at Kilberry on the northwestern side of Athy.

The elderly couple driving a dark-coloured Ford Fiesta are understood to also be local, in their 80s and from the Ballitore/Kilkea area. It is understood they had been visiting a family member who lives in the vicinity of the crash.

The road where the crash happened was closed to traffic yesterday as Garda collision experts examined the scene. Emergency services were forced to cut the roof and doors off the car.

Safety campaign
The crash took place within hours of the launch of the Garda’s latest road safety campaign, designed to cover the start of the June Bank Holiday weekend, traditionally a dangerous time for road deaths.

It also took place as the town of Athy was preparing to celebrate an annual triathlon, the Tri-Athy, with bunting up around the town and a number of festivities planned.

Local councillor Richard Daly said the town was “stunned”. He said locals were keenly aware of road safety, as was Kildare County Council, which had been one of the first councils to appoint a road safety officer.

“It is not something we don’t think about, and for this to happen when the town is about to celebrate, with the best crockery out, it is awful,” he said.

Mr Daly said he knew the families affected by the tragedy, as did most people in Athy. He asked that people “redouble” their safety efforts on the roads.

Declan Keogh, road safety officer with Kildare County Council, said the road was a relatively new link to the M9 and was well surfaced, and conditions were dry. He said just hours before the crash he and Martin Dunne, area manager of the HSE ambulance service, had been on KFM radio asking people to stay safe over the bank holiday weekend.

“We were asking people to consider the carnage that can be caused in an instant,” he said.