Saturday 23 September 2017

'They were only driving because they missed the bus' - Three generations of the same family among five killed

  • Seven-year-old boy, mum and grandmother die in horror crash
  • Two US tourists killed in multi-vehicle collision in Co Cork
  • Gardaí issues separate appeal for information following hit and run
Road victims Mary Ann Wilson (left) and her daughter Marcella, who died in a road accident at Claremorris, Co Mayo
Road victims Mary Ann Wilson (left) and her daughter Marcella, who died in a road accident at Claremorris, Co Mayo
Seán Wilson (7), who died in yesterday’s road accident near Claremorris, Co Mayo

Allison Bray, Ralph Riegel and Tom Shiel

Three generations of the same family were killed on a day of carnage on the roads which left five people dead.

Two women and a seven-year-old boy died when the car they were travelling in collided with an articulated truck on the N17 near Claremorris, Co Mayo at around 1pm.

The victims of the horrific accident were named locally last night as Marcella Wilson, in her 40s, who lived in Belmullet; her son Seán; and her mother Mary Ann, in her 70s.

It is understood that Marcella was driving the Citroen car when it collided with a truck coming in the opposite direction. Marcella was taking her mother to a hospital appointment in Galway and was only driving as they had missed a bus in Castlebar.

The driver of the truck was treated at the scene for shock.

The three deaths came on the same day that two American tourists lost their lives following a multiple-vehicle crash in Cork. Last night the deceased pair were named locally as James Baker (62) from Columbia City, Indiana, and Peggy Sue Adams (59) from Ohio.

Gardaí at the fatal crash in Co Cork.
Gardaí at the fatal crash in Co Cork.

Both were on holiday in Ireland with their partners, having flown into Dublin last Friday evening.

The accident, on the N20 Cork-Limerick road outside Cork city near the Waterloo junction, involved an articulated lorry and two cars. The collision took place around 11am close to a junction used to access Blarney village.

The driver of the car and another female passenger in her 60s were injured in the collision and were taken to CUH and the Mercy University Hospital (MUH).

It is understood the female driver of the second car involved in the Mallow Road tragedy was 22 weeks pregnant. The young woman, who was the only occupant of a small Peugeot hatchback, was treated for non-life threatening injuries at CUH.

The male driver of the articulated lorry was treated at the scene for severe shock.

Mr Baker is believed to be related to the driver of the hire car who was seriously injured in the collision.

It is understood the friends hired a car at Dublin Airport and planned to spend a week touring Ireland. Gardaí have now appealed for witnesses to the collision to contact them.

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Road victims Mary Ann Wilson (left) and her daughter Marcella, who died in a road accident at Claremorris, Co Mayo

Meanwhile, the local community in Belmullet was in shock last night following the three deaths in the Wilson family.

A garda at the scene of the tragedy in which three generations of the Wilson family died. Photo: Mark Condren
A garda at the scene of the tragedy in which three generations of the Wilson family died. Photo: Mark Condren

Mary Ann Wilson lived in the townland of Cross, Binghamstown, on the Erris Peninsula, with her husband, Josie. It is understood locals were last night comforting Marcella's surviving children Amy (16), Kelly (14) and Anthony (8).

Close friend and neighbour Teresa Whelan said everyone in the area is heartbroken. The Sinn Féin councillor told the Irish Independent: "She was such a nice person, a really good person and a great mother. As you can imagine, we are devastated. It's a huge blow."

"It is a small place and we are all just numb. We are all coming together now."

A neighbour of Marcella said:

“When I woke up this morning it took me a few moments to remember what happened. It’s even harder today compared to yesterday when we were all still in shock. Just looking at the empty house is really hard to take in.

“It’s a very tight-knit town and her [Marcella’s] kids and family members will be all taken care of. I’ve had to even take the day off work today because I’m just a complete mess. I’m sure there are plenty of people from the community extending their condolences to them today.

“There is no buzz around the town now… The excitement about the big match is gone – there are more important things to worry about,” she said.

Another local from Belmullet said he still can’t comprehend what happened.

“It’s hard to believe that only yesterday, the family were going about their daily routine. It’s just so sad and when things like this happen it really puts life into perspective – here today, gone tomorrow. You never know what’s around the corner.

“It’s just not fair and I suppose the only thing you can do is be there for their family and close friends.

“I knew the family since I moved here about 10 years ago and while we weren’t that close, I could tell how nice and full of life they always were.”

Ms Wilson's brother Noel and sister Antoinette were on their way from the UK last night to formally identify the bodies which have been taken to Mayo University Hospital for post-mortem examinations.

Local priest Fr Hegarty offered his condolences to the well-known family.

"Yesterday afternoon was devastating here. Earlier in the afternoon, we're a football obsessed county, all the talk was on the All-Ireland this weekend and then suddenly it stopped. A silence descended upon the community and all of us want to offer to the Wilson family our deepest sympathy. We are well aware that our words can't meet the reality of the anguish they are facing but we do want them to know that we care.

"Just six months ago, four people in the helicopter 116 died off the peninsula here. In many ways, tragic death has stalked this community here for the past few months," Fr Hegarty told Morning Ireland.

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Seán Wilson (7), who died in yesterday’s road accident near Claremorris, Co Mayo

There was a sense of loss in the chamber of Mayo County Council too as members held their first meeting following the summer holidays.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Richard Finn led a minute's silence in memory of the dead family at the outset of the session.

"The whole community is heartbroken over the loss of life and the pain which family and other loved ones must now endure," he stated.

In a third incident, a young man is fighting for his life after a hit-and-run on the main street of Edgeworthstown in Co Longford.

The man, in his early 20s, was struck by a silver Ford Transit van at 2.30 on Sunday morning.

The vehicle failed to remain at the scene.

He was initially treated at the Midlands Hospital in Mullingar before being transferred to Beaumont Hospital in Dublin where the young man's condition is now critical.

Granard gardaí have appealed for information on the Ford Transit van and urged anyone with details to contact them at (043) 6687660.

Road safety bodies last night expressed horror at a grim period in which three separate accidents left five people dead, a pregnant woman injured and a young man fighting for his life after a hit-and-run.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA) urged all road users to drive with care given that 109 people have lost their lives on Irish roads this year.

PARC road safety official Susan Gray said the tragedies underlined the need for drivers to exercise the utmost caution.

"It is heartbreaking to think about what these poor families are now going through," she said.

"We would once again appeal to people to take every possible precaution on the roads - the priority should always be arriving safely at your destination."

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the scale of the tragedies left many stunned.

"It reiterates the need for all of us to be vigilant and cautious on the road," he said.

Irish Independent

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