'Everyone in Kerry is truly shocked and saddened' - two tourists killed in freak accident
- Man and woman - in their 50s or 60s - killed in freak accident
- Deceased understood to be tourists from the U.S. who were visiting the Kerry region
- Post-mortems to be carried out at Kerry General Hospital tomorrow
- 'The people of Killarney extend our heartfelt sympathies to all affected by this tragedy and will do whatever we can to support the family during this very sad time' - Chamber of Tourism President
Two US tourists have died in a freak jaunting car accident in Kerry.
The accident is understood to have occurred at 1.40pm in the Gap of Dunloe, not far from the popular Kate Kearney's Cottage attraction.
The identities of the two dead have not been confirmed, but it is understood that they are a man and woman - in their 50s or 60s - who were visiting from the the US.
It is understood a horse pulling the jaunting car may have been startled by something and, without warning, suddenly bolted.
The jaunting car struck a bridge and somehow flipped onto the parapet.
It is believed the cart occupants catapulted some eight metres down onto rocks in the stream below.
Gardaí and emergency services raced to the scene. The road was immediately closed and vehicles were diverted out of the beauty spot.
The bodies of the two victims were transferred by hearse to Kerry General Hospital shortly after 5pm.
The Office of the State Pathologist has been notified and is expected to carry out two post-mortems tomorrow.
The operator of the jaunting cart - who is understood to be in his forties and from the local area - was treated for extreme shock at the scene.
He was taken to hospital, but was later released.
A jaunting car is a type of traditional trap vehicle pulled by a pony or a horse.
Meanwhile, gardaí and emergency services at the scene of the tragedy were assisted by members of the Kerry Mountain Rescue teams, whose expertise was required given the steep nature of the terrain involved.
Locals admitted they were deeply shocked by the tragic accident which occurred at the start of Killarney's traditional tourist season.
The Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce has expressed its sympathy to the families at the centre of the tragedy and said they "will do whatever we can" to support them. In a statement issued this evening, Chamber President Paul O'Neill said; "We are all shocked and saddened by this most tragic accident.
"The Gap of Dunloe is one Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations, a place that brings joy to tourists the world over and we are devastated that a visit to it by this couple would end in such tragic circumstances.
"The people of Killarney extend our heartfelt sympathies to all affected by this tragedy and will do whatever we can to support the family during this very sad time."
Local Fianna Fail councillor, John Joe Culloty, offered his sympathies to those affected by the "terrible tragedy".
"The tourists started their day like thousands of people have previously done. It was to be a day out at the Gap of Dunloe, such a popular tourist spot, and for it to end in such a sudden and unexpected tragedy is truly awful," he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin also offered his condolences to the families of the tourists.
"It is deeply upsetting to hear the news of the tragic accident that has claimed the lives of two tourists on holiday in Kerry," Minister Griffin said.
"Everyone in Kerry is truly shocked and saddened. I want to offer my sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims at this most distressing time."
Two years ago, a US tourist was killed in the area when they apparently lost control of their bicycle as they were descending a steep mountain road in the Gap of Dunloe.