Two killed in ‘freak’ pony and trap accident in Killarney

US couple in their 60s flung onto rocks after horse bolts at Gap of Dunloe in Co Kerry

Gardaí close off access to the scene where two American tourists were killed at the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney on Monday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

Gardaí close off access to the scene where two American tourists were killed at the Gap of Dunloe in Killarney on Monday. Photograph: Don MacMonagle

 

An American couple in their 60s travelling in a pony and trap were flung down a 12ft ravine on to rocks when the horse bolted in the Gap of Dunloe in Co Kerry on Monday.

The tourists were pronounced dead at the scene. They were on holiday from Phoenix, Arizona, with the woman’s daughter, her daughter’s husband and their two young children, who were travelling behind the couple but did not witness the incident.

The trap and horse went into the air and landed on top of the couple but the driver, a local man in his 40s, managed to jump clear and avoid serious injury. He was badly shaken and treated for shock at the scene by paramedics.

They had been travelling towards Kate Kearney’s cottage at about 2pm when the horse bolted at the Iron Bridge.

Investigating gardaí are hoping to speak to the driver in the coming days.

Postmortems

They closed off the road and the bodies of the two deceased were later removed to University Hospital Kerry for postmortems on Tuesday morning which gardaí hope will establish the exact cause of death.

A Garda forensic crash investigator began examining the scene of the accident after a local vet was called to put down the horse, which was badly injured.

Supt Flor Murphy of Killarney Garda station confirmed that the matter was being investigated as a road traffic collision as it happened on a public roadway. The trap was later removed for examination, he said.

“It’s a freak accident and the tragedy is that if this happened, say, 50 yards down the road we wouldn’t even be talking about it, because the couple would have landed into soft boggy ground. Unfortunately it happened beside a rocky ravine and they ended up landing on the rocks,” a source said.