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Sunday 17 February 2019

'Four of the finest young men have been taken away from us' - devastation as childhood friends killed in crash are named

  • Victims named as; John Harley (24) from Falcarragh, Daniel Scott (aged in his twenties) from Gortahork, Shaun Harkin (22) from Falcarragh and Mícheál Roarty (24) from Gweedore
  • Gardaí describe the scene of the crash as 'devastating'
  • 'A cloud of sadness over the area' - Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty
  • 'It is a tragedy that spans three parishes' - local priest
  • A total of 10 people have lost their lives on Irish roads in the last week
(L-R) Mícheál Roarty, Shaun Harkin, John Harley and Daniel Scott lost their lives in the crash
(L-R) Mícheál Roarty, Shaun Harkin, John Harley and Daniel Scott lost their lives in the crash
Daniel Scott
Micheal Roarty
Shaun Harkin
John Harley
Garda at the scene of a local road near Gleann hUallach, Gaoth Dobhair where four young men lost their lives in a road accident. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Superintendent David Kelly Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
The scene of the tragic accident where four young men lost their lives. North West Newspix

Robin Schiller, Conor Feehan, Rachel Farrell and Stephen Maguire

The four young men who have lost their lives following a horrific road crash in Co Donegal have been named locally.

The victims have been named locally as John Harley (24) from Falcarragh; Daniel Scott (aged in his twenties) from Gortahork; Shaun Harkin (22) from Falcarragh and Mícheál Roarty (24) from Gweedore.

Garda at the scene of a local road near Gleann hUallach, Gaoth Dobhair where four young men lost their lives in a road accident. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Garda at the scene of a local road near Gleann hUallach, Gaoth Dobhair where four young men lost their lives in a road accident. Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Gardaí described the scene of the crash on a local road near Magheraroarty, Gortahork, as "devastating".

The incident occurred on a mountain bog road near a bridge, not too far from the coast road, between Gortahork and Gweedore.

The four were travelling in a Toyota Corolla vehicle.

Local gardaí attended the scene and were joined by the chief superintendent from Buncrana and other gardaí from Milford last night.

Daniel Scott
Daniel Scott

Local councillor Seamus O'Domhnaill described the victims as "four fine young men" and expressed his condolences with their family and friends.

"Four of the finest young men that anyone would want to have in any community have been tragically and devastatingly taken away from us,” he told Independent.ie.

“Members of the Gweedore and wider community are more than devastated. Everybody sends their condolences to their family and also to their group of friends, they were all friends in school."

All four of the young victims were travelling in the same car. No other vehicle was involved.

Micheal Roarty
Micheal Roarty

The emergency services were alerted to the crash shortly before 9pm. Local gardaí secured the scene while ambulances and fire crews attended from across the county. Despite their efforts, all four men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Forensic collision investigators continued to work at the scene of the crash today, trying to establish the sequence of events before the fatal crash.

The car ended up off the road beside a low bridge at the bottom of a dip in a minor road.

The roof of the vehicle was cut off by the emergency services during the rescue efforts.

John Harley
John Harley

As the gravity of the depth of the tragedy spread around the western Donegal communities of Gweedore, Gortahork and Falcarragh, Supt David Kelly of Milford garda station issued an appeal for information on sightings of the car the men were traveling in yesterday.

“Garda last night, at approximately 8.40pm received a report of a single vehicle collision at Gleannhualach. When they attended the scene they found one vehicle, a 01DL registered silver Toyota Corolla hatchback off the road and there were four casualties. Also in attendance were the HSE ambulance service and our colleagues from Donegal County Council fire and rescue service.

"It was dark, it was a tragic scene, family members arrived. I'd like to sincerely on behalf of the Gardai and my other colleagues to offer our condolences to the families, their friends and the community following this tragic incident.

"I would like to make an appeal now to the public and the local community. If anyone saw that silver Toyota Corolla with a 01DL registration travelling in the direction of Magheroarty to Gweedore yesterday evening prior to 8.40pm, or indeed earlier in the day to please contact the Gardai at Milford garda station on 074 9153060 or the garda confidential line 1800 666111."

Grief

Shaun Harkin
Shaun Harkin

A local priest who attended the scene last night described the incident as "the stuff of nightmares".

Fr Brian O'Fearraigh, from the parish of Gweedore, said he received a call to attend the scene at approximately 9pm last night.

Speaking to RTÉ's Sean O'Rourke, Fr O'Fearraigh said he paused at the top of the hill and looked into the valley as he travelled to the area, aware by the scene below that tragedy had struck.

"It just makes no sense whatsoever, it is a terrible tragedy," he said.

"It was made clear when I arrived that it was a terrible tragedy and horror. We stood altogether and we had a few prayers when the family members arrived.

"We stood still and we spoke and we embraced. Sometimes in tragedies like this, words can fall silent and I think that your presence and the presence of one another is what's important.

"These communities have been plunged into the depths of grief and mourning in this most tragic of events."

Fr O'Fearraigh said nothing can prepare you as a priest for tragedy, but said he is comforted by the fact that there is a strong community in the north-west and people will help each other. He also paid tribute to the emergency services at the scene.

"Their dedication is next to none," he added.

"It's important we have that and it's important to acknowledge it.

"They don't seek praise, but it's important to say thank you."

Parish priest for Gortahork Fr Sean O'Gallchóir said it is a tragedy that spans three parishes in north-west Donegal.

Speaking earlier this morning on RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland, Fr O'Gallchóir said there will be a "void" for the parents for the rest of their lives.

"People are just saddened and stunned, and in disbelief and totally numb," Fr O'Gallchóir said.

"On behalf of everyone, we extend our sympathies to the parents, to the families and friends of the four young men.

"It is felt right across the communities as they come from three different parishes, two of the young men are here in Gortahork, one in neighbouring Falcarragh and one in the parish of Gweedore, very well-known young men and very well-known families."

Fr O'Gallchóir said he spoke to two of the families last night after the accident.

"The two boys were in the same class in primary school, the same class in secondary school, they grew up together. They were friends all their lives," he continued.

"I was talking to the parents last night and it just beyond belief. They are totally devastated and in shock and in great grief.

"The community will rally around, people will do their best, but this will be a void for the rest of the parents' lives."

The local priest said people in the area are "bewildered" by the tragedy.

"It's unbelievable for young people to see, these boys they grew up, they went out with."

Local Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said there was a "cloud of sadness over the area", adding that his thoughts and prayers were with the dead men's families.

He paid tribute to the four men, saying they had their full lives ahead of them.

"As the news filtered through, a cloud of sadness descended on the entire area. When you hear of a tragedy like a car crash, you fear the worst. This was beyond the worst.

"These were four friends who had all their lives in front of them, and they had their lives snatched from them."

Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Pat the Cope Gallagher expressed his shock and sadness.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of these men.  I know the community will rally around the families over the tough days and weeks ahead.

“I would like to pay tribute to the Gardaí and the emergency services and first responders, who arrived swiftly on the scene and tended to the victims."

Tragedy

The four deaths bring to 10 the number of people who have lost their lives on Irish roads over the last week.

Last night, a man in his eighties lost his life in a single vehicle collision near Coolcullen in Co Kilkenny.

On Friday, Joseph and Louise Waller, who were both in their 70s, were killed in a single car crash near the Monaghan and Armagh border at Killyneill Cross.

Their car left the road and ended up in a bog. It is believed their car had become submerged in water.

On Thursday, a pedestrian in his 40s died after he was struck by a 4x4 vehicle on the Dublin Road, Monasterevin, Co Kildare.

Earlier that day, Dublin woman Jackie Griffin was killed in a collision on the M50.

And after 9am on the same day, a passenger in her 80s died after the car she was travelling in was involved in a collision in Loughrea, Co Galway.

Last Sunday night, a 60-year-old man was involved in a collision with a truck in Dungarvan, Co Waterford.

Irish Independent

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