Gardaí to interview relatives of motorist in four-fatality M6 crash

Motorist is believed to have driven on to the motorway in the wrong direction

Gardaí at the scene of collision on the M6 at Poolboy, Ballinasloe, Co Galway on Thursday. Photograph: Hany Marzouk

Gardaí at the scene of collision on the M6 at Poolboy, Ballinasloe, Co Galway on Thursday. Photograph: Hany Marzouk

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Gardaí believe one of four people killed in a crash on the M6 motorway in Co Galway on Thursday drove on to the road in the wrong direction, crashing head-on into an oncoming vehicle carrying a couple and their infant child.

Detectives were trying to establish what caused the driver to enter the motorway on the wrong side. They were hopeful family and friends of the driver, believed to be an adult male, may shed light on his state of mind and whether that may have influenced the manner of his driving.

The head-on crash caused one of the vehicles to burst into flames, while the other car was very extensively damaged by the force of the impact. The couple and their child, believed to be foreign nationals living in Ireland, were also killed in the collision along with the motorist driving down the motorway in the wrong direction. The four victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Gardaí have also appealed for witnesses to come forward, especially any drivers with dashcam footage filmed in the area just before the crash.

The deaths of the four brought to six the number of road fatalities in the Republic in 24 hours. There have been a total of 92 people killed on the country’s roads so far this year, three more than during the same period last year.

Garda Assistant Commissioner Paula Hilman appealed for caution on the roads in the wake of the four-fatality crash in Co Galway, especially as Met Éireann has issued weather warnings for heavy rainfall and localised flooding, with the Road Safety Authority (RSA) echoing that appeal.

“It’s been a dark 24 hours on Irish roads which has seen an appalling loss of life,” said RSA chief executive Sam Waide.

Thursday night’s crash, which also involved a third vehicle, occurred at about 7.40pm on the M6 motorway at Poolboy, Ballinasloe. The driver of the third car involved was the sole occupant of that vehicle, and while they were taken to hospital for treatment, their injuries were not life-threatening.

Such was the impact of the two vehicles crashing head-on that gardaí believe debris from those cars shot over the scene and caused the driver of the third vehicle to crash.

Gardaí said the victims’ bodies were removed to nearby Portiuncula Hospital for postmortem examinations. The M6 in both directions, between junctions 14 and 15, was closed overnight into yesterday morning and through most of yesterday. Garda forensic collision investigators examined the scene for hours before the crashed cars were removed just before 4pm. The road was reopened to traffic yesterday evening.

Gardaí believe the driver who was travelling the wrong way, on the westbound carriageway of what is the main Dublin to Galway motorway, had driven off a roundabout and the wrong way onto the M6, down an exit ramp. It appears that after entering the westbound carriageway, the driver continued on the motorway for only a short time, a matter of minutes, before the head-on crash occurred.

If you are affected by any issue in this article, please contact Pieta House on 1800-247247 or the Samaritans by telephoning 116123 (free) or by emailing jo@samaritans.ie

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