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Tuesday 23 September 2014

Heartbroken families sympathise with Irish rally driver after tragedy

Published 03/06/2014 | 07:47

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Co- Driver Friver Ray Fitzpatrick on the left with Rally Driver  David Carney
Co- Driver Friver Ray Fitzpatrick on the left with Rally Driver David Carney
Police at the scene near Coldstream where three people were killed after a rally car lost control during the Jim Clark rally. PA
Police at the scene near Coldstream where three people were killed after a rally car lost control during the Jim Clark rally. PA

The families of two of the victims of the weekend's tragedy during the Jim Clark Rally have sympathised with Irish rally driver Dave Carney after his car spun out of control and ploughed into the crowd killing three.

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The 26-year-old Mayo driver is said to be traumatised by the tragic incident which has sent shockwaves through the world of rallying.

Neither Carney or his co-pilot Ray Fitzpatrick (43), who is originally from Cahir, co Tipperary but who now lives with his partner in Portarlington, were injured in the crash.

Both men are being comforted by loved ones in Scotland and they are expected to be questioned by police in the coming days.

The family of a Len Stern, 71, who was one of three people killed after the car came off the road said he had died "watching the sport he loved".

The family of Mr Stern, from Bearsden near Glasgow, said in a statement: "Len was a special uncle who was well-loved by the family.

"His death is really tragic but he died watching the sport that he loved. Our thoughts are with the driver and his family during this difficult time."

The other victims, Iain Provan, 64, and his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, had travelled to the event from Barrhead, near Glasgow.

Relatives of Mr Provan, who founded the Motorsport Scotland website, said: "The family would like to thank race officials, members of the public and the emergency services for their assistance following yesterday's tragic incident.

"We would also like to thank everyone for their kind thoughts and ask that our privacy be respected at this very difficult time."

The accident happened at about 4pm at Little Swinton, near Coldstream, two hours after another rally car left the road and hit five people - four men and a woman.

Two of the injured men, both aged 61, remain in hospital - one in a stable condition and one in a critical but stable condition.

An investigation into the circumstances of the crash is continuing today, with Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and top prosecutor, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland, to receive a briefing from police later.

The crashed car was removed from the scene by officers last night as forensic specialists examined the scene.

Flowers have been left near the crash site with one bouquet carrying a card reading: "The sport that we all love is very cruel at times."

Famous names from the world of motor sport meanwhile expressed sadness at the deaths.

Former Formula One world champion Jenson Button posted on Twitter: "Terribly sad news from the Jim Clark rally, my thoughts are with those involved and the families that have lost loved ones."

An eyewitness to the fatal crash described the incident as like "a bowling ball hitting skittles".

Colin Gracey, who has watched the rally for years from the same spot close to where the crash happened, said the experience was "traumatic".

"I think it was the seventh car coming through and it just veered very sharply after taking the bridge and it went right into the field, hitting the people who were stood there. It was shocking," he said.

"I was there with my family, my three children, and we go to the same place every year and always watch it from there. It was very traumatic.

"It was like a bowling ball hitting skittles. It was awful, absolutely awful."

Mr Gracey said a safety car passed through the area before the rally to tell people to stand at a safe distance. But he said some people may have returned.

"There were at least a dozen people standing there and when it happened I thought 'my god'," he said.

"It was horrendous, I've never seen anything like it in my life."

In a statement following the crash, rally organisers said their thoughts were with those affected.

"All members of the organising team are in shock and are co-operating fully with Police Scotland to establish the facts," the statement read.

The rally is named after Scottish Formula One driver Jim Clark, who grew up in the area and was killed in a motor racing accident in Hockenheim, Germany, in 1968.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the fatal crash, and the earlier one near Eccles, to contact them.

Officers are particularly interested to speak to anyone who has video footage or photographs of the rally and may have captured the collisions.

Detective superintendent Kenneth Graham said: "We would ask that anyone who has any video footage or photographs, or has any other information that may help with our investigation, to contact police immediately on 101."

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