Three women and 10-year-old girl killed in horrific car crash
Three women and a 10-year-old girl were killed yesterday as tragedy struck again on Ireland's roads.
Now a major garda investigation is under way after the early morning car crash, not far from Mullingar.
The four unidentified females were travelling in a car which was in a collision with an SUV, just after 7.45am yesterday morning on the main Dublin to Sligo road.
After the collision, the car left the road and plunged into a roadside ditch.
There was speculation that the victims were non-nationals from Africa, but this could not be confirmed last night.
The three adult victims, who were in their late 30s and early 40s, were travelling east in the direction of Dublin when their car collided with the SUV heading in the opposite direction.
The sound of the impact alerted nearby residents, who rushed to the scene.
"I was just out of the shower and heard a thud," said one man. "I ran to the scene but I knew there was nothing I could do for the injured. I went back to stop traffic from approaching."
The man said that a woman on her way to work in the Midland Regional Hospital, in Mullingar, was among those who stopped to help.
Firefighters from Westmeath Fire and Rescue Service responded and began the daunting task of recovering the bodies of the four victims, who were pronounced dead at the scene.
Ambulance crews from a number of stations remained at the scene until the body of the last victim was taken from the crash site at 10.45am.
The Very Reverend Padraig McMahon, attached to the Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar, gave the Last Rites. Supt Pat McMenamin, of Mullingar Garda Station, has appealed for witnesses to come forward.
Investigating gardai want to talk to anyone who observed a gold-coloured Nissan Almera (03-registered) or a black Kia Sorento SUV (06-registered) travelling on the Mullingar-Edgeworthstown stretch of the N4 between 7am and 7.45am yesterday.
Initial reports indicated that the victims may have been travelling from Longford at the time of the crash.
But mystery surrounds the cause of the accident, about three miles outside Mullingar, which happened on the brow of a hill at the townland of Portnashangan.
"The road is wide and straight, so it is difficult to understand how this has happened. The entire community is numbed by this. Our thoughts and prayers are with those involved," said local councillor Andrew Duncan.
He said there have been a number of serious crashes on that part of the N4.
"But there has been nothing on this scale. It is truly horrific. Our hearts go out to them. The whole town has been numbed," he said.
The driver of the SUV, a 50-year-old man, was taken by ambulance to Mullingar General Hospital.
He was not seriously injured. Gardai closed the road to facilitate a Garda Forensic Collision examination and diversions were put in place.
The tragedy caused the cancellation of the women's and veterans' National Cycling Championships at Multyfarnham, organised by the Lakeside Wheelers club.