Icy conditions leave one dead, two critical
ONE man has died and two other people were left fighting for their lives following a number of crashes on icy roads across the country.
Motorists were urged to take care yesterday as gardai warned of dangerous driving conditions in the midlands and north-east.
In Galway, a 29-year-old woman was critically ill after the car she was driving went off the road near Tuam.
A witness alerted emergency services after seeing the car leaving the road and landing in thick foliage.
Gardai said that, were it not for the witness being at the scene, the victim could have been lying undiscovered for hours and would not have stood a chance. The driver was rushed by ambulance to University College Hospital in Galway for emergency medical treatment.
Diversions were in place for several hours as garda forensic collision investigators carried out examinations at the scene. In Co Laois, a man was also left critically ill in hospital following a collision between a car and a truck at Clonad, near the main N8 Portlaoise roundabout.
All three, believed to be from Eastern Europe but living in Portlaoise, were taken to Portlaoise General Hospital.
One of the male car passengers was then transferred to Tullamore General Hospital. His condition was described as critical. The three others, including the truck driver, were also taken to hospital. The truck driver was understood to have later been released.
On Saturday, an 83-year-old man lost his week-long fight for life in hospital.
The pensioner was injured the previous Saturday, December 29, while cycling in Westport, Co Mayo.
Sean Neilus, from Fr Angelus Park in Westport, had been in intensive care in Castlebar General Hospital since he was knocked off his bicycle in a collision with a car on the Castlebar Road while returning from Mass.
Emergency services responded to a number of incidents around the country as the cold snap left many roads icy in parts of Leitrim, Louth, Longford, Kildare and Meath.
Black ice was blamed for several minor crashes along the N3 in Co Meath, while the N11 was described as extremely icy following a crash near Arklow in Co Wicklow.
As Met Eireann issued a weather warning yesterday, gardai and AA Roadwatch urged motorists, particularly on exposed roads, to take extra care by reducing speed and keeping a distance from the vehicle in front.
Meanwhile, the stormy weather hit Shannon Airport on Saturday, after two Aer Lingus planes were grounded for a short time when they were both struck by lightning shortly before landing at the hub.
The two Airbus A330-300 aircraft were flying from the US to Ireland when they encountered bad weather about 48km west of Shannon.
Both planes were struck by lightning, sustaining damage to their nose-cones.
After the planes were examined by engineers they were both cleared for use.