Donegal crash: Four friends died after saying goodbye to each other

All in their 20s, three of the men had been seeing the fourth off ahead of a move abroad

Clockwise from top left: Shaun Harkin, Daniel Scott, John Harley and Mícheál Roarty were killed in a single-vehicle road crash in Co Donegal on Sunday night.

Clockwise from top left: Shaun Harkin, Daniel Scott, John Harley and Mícheál Roarty were killed in a single-vehicle road crash in Co Donegal on Sunday night.

 

Four friends killed in a horrific car crash in Co Donegal were saying goodbye to each other as one prepared to start a new job abroad next week.

John Harley (24), Shaun Harkin (22) and Mícheál Roarty (24) were out with friend Daniel Scott, also in his 20s, who was due to leave for work in Denmark next week when tragedy struck.

The four were killed instantly when the Toyota Corolla hatchback car they were travelling in left the road in the townland of Gleannhulaigh near Machaire Rabhartaigh around 8.40pm on Sunday. The car was found lying on its roof.

All were from the Dunlewey, Falcarragh and Gortahork areas.

The deaths of the four young men, who were all were involved in the local community, including being members of both local soccer and GAA teams, has sent shock waves through West Donegal.

The scene of the accident where the four young men lost their lives. Photograph: North West Newspix
The scene of the accident where the four young men lost their lives. Photograph: North West Newspix

The location of the horrific crash on a rugged country road between Gortahork and Gaoth Dobhair was immediately sealed off by gardaí.

One of the first there was local priest Fr Brian Ó Fearraigh, who said: “To look down into the valley where the accident happened and to see the sirens and to go to the scene was just the stuff of nightmares.

“Two communities had been plunged into sadness by what had happened. Words fall silent. And then relatives of those in the crash began to arrive and we just stood there and hugged.”

Fr Ó Fearraigh also spoke of the resilience of the local community and how they will come together in the coming days to rally behind the families of those who have lost loved ones.

The road in Gortahork, Co Donegal, where the crash took place. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA Wire
The road in Gortahork, Co Donegal, where the crash took place. Photograph: Rebecca Black/PA Wire

The garda leading the investigation into the crash has appealed for information about the movements of the men’s car before the tragedy.

Appeal for sightings

Speaking at a press conference at Bunbeg Garda station, Supt David Kelly appealed for any sightings of the car before the crash or throughout Sunday.

“I would like to make an appeal to the public and to the local community. If anybody saw that silver Toyota Corolla 01DL travelling in the direction of Machaire Rabhartaigh yesterday evening [Sunday, January 27th] prior to 8.40pm or indeed earlier in the day please contact the gardaí at Milford Garda station,” he said.

Principal of Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola in Falcarragh, Maeve Sweeney said three of the four young men killed in the crash – Shaun Harkin, Daniel Scott and John Harley – had attended the school.

“They were three lovely lads, gentlemen is how we would describe them, many people have fond memories of them, staff members, people in the school community,” she said.

The dramatic scene following the accident where the four young men lost their lives. Photograph: North West Newspix
The dramatic scene following the accident where the four young men lost their lives. Photograph: North West Newspix

“It has been heart wrenching. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families at this time because it’s unimaginable what they’re going through,” she added.

Cllr Seamus O’Domhnaill, who is from Falcarragh, said a black cloud had descended on West Donegal following the accident. He described the four who died as “very popular young men, very polite and very good in every way they operated”.