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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Exclusive: 'They would always accompany each other' - Daughter of Josie Duff (79) speaks after tragic road accident

Elderly cousins killed seconds after stepping off bus that took them to a doctor's appointment in Dublin

The scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning and inset Josie Duff (79)
The scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning and inset Josie Duff (79)
The scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The closed off N2 near the scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning.Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The scene of the fatal accident at Ardee this morning. Photo: Colin O'Riordan
The scene at Hunterstown, close to Ardee, where two women died after being knocked down last night. Photo: Ciara Wilkinson

Elaine Keogh and Conor Feehan

The two women who were tragically killed near Ardee in Co Louth yesterday evening had both been in Dublin because one of them had a doctor’s appointment.

Josie Duff (79) and Kathy McDonald (70) were also first cousins, and would always accompany each other for medical appointments to lend support.

Speaking at the family home today, Josie’s heartbroken daughters Fiona and Mary told of how she was a powerhouse of energy and the most selfless woman they knew.

“She helped with the hospice in Ardee and with the Irish Wheelchair Association too. There's even a room named after her in the Wheelchair Association,” said Fiona.

“She met President Mary McAleese as well because of her work there.

“She had great energy, you couldn't keep up with her. She volunteered out of the kindness of her heart, it wasn't like any of us are wheelchair users or anything,” said Mary.

“We have two brothers, Peter and Kevin, and a sister, Loretta, in the States and they are getting flights now to come home. It will be a long journey for them,” Fiona explained.

Josie is also survived by her husband John, who used to drive a minibus for the Wheelchair Association.

She also has eleven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

“She loved the garden too. She and daddy would be out doing it together,” they said, looking down on the neat lawn and trimmed bushes in the garden that slopes down to the River Dee.

“Mammy and Kathy were in Dublin because Kathy had a doctor’s appointment. They would always go with each other if one of them had an appointment. Mammy collected Kathy and they parked at the pub and got the bus to Dublin.

“It was when they got off the bus and were crossing back over to the car that they were hit,” said Fiona.

The women had alighted from a bus and were in the process of crossing the road when they were hit by a car.

It is believed the women were crossing the road to reach a parked car.

Both women were pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident happened close to the Hunterstown Inn, south of Ardee, on the N2 at about 6.30pm.

The car park of the Hunterstown Inn is used by people who park there and then get the bus to Dublin.

Emergency services quickly responded to the accident and vehicles from the fire brigade and ambulance service went to the scene.

Gardaí sealed off the road and a Garda spokesman said that the road would remain closed overnight and would probably remain closed for sometime today to facilitate the work of a Garda investigation team.

Paramedics and fire fighters were also at the scene.

The remains of the deceased were removed at around 9pm and taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where post-mortem examinations will be carried out.

The road remained sealed off this morning so garda forensic crash investigators could assess the area.

Diversions were put in place to take traffic around the crash site.

It is a 100km zone of the N2, the old main road from Dublin to Derry, and although the road is in good condition there are no street lamps on it at that point.

The car park of the pub is floodlit however.

A car, which has been covered with a tarpaulin, could be seen at the side of the road facing the direction of Dublin on the Southside of the Hunterstown Inn this morning.

Parish priest Fr Peter Murphy was last night calling to the homes of the families of the deceased and said: "It is a terrible shock for everybody."

Another man, who did not want to be named, said: "The news is just coming through now.

"Everybody is in shock. They were two lovely ladies.

"One of them did a lot for the community, they were just lovely, we are all in shock," he added.

Councillor Jim Tenanty said he saw several emergency vehicles at the scene as gardaí diverted traffic.

He said: "People are shocked, absolutely.

"The road is just after being reopened on December 22 after they took the dangerous junction out of it to make it safer."

Local man Aaron McCabe was in the area at the time.

"I didn't see it happen but I just went up and saw four ambulances and a fire brigade. It happened just outside the Hunsterstown Inn," he said.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses with information to come forward and contact Ardee garda station on 041-6871130.

In 2016, there were 187 road deaths, a 15pc increase when compared to 2015.

The highest numbers of fatalities were recorded in counties Cork and Dublin with 21 each, followed by Limerick with 16.

Irish Independent

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