Monday 23 October 2017

Sole survivor of crash that killed eight is quizzed

Flowers at the scene of the crash. Photo: PA
Flowers at the scene of the crash. Photo: PA

Anita Guidera and Linda McGrory

THE 22-year-old man who survived a horror smash that claimed eight lives has been interviewed by gardai for the first time.

Gardai investigating the horrific collision in Co Donegal last July are now awaiting the results of crucial forensic tests from the crash scene to progress the investigation further.

Seven of the eight young men in a single car died instantly in the collision on the R238 between Clonmany and Buncrana on July 11.

Mark McLaughlin (21), from Fahan; Paul Doherty (19), from Ballyliffin; Ciaran Sweeney (19), of Ballyliffin; PJ McLaughlin (21), of Burnfoot; James McEleney (23), of Clonmany; Eamon McDaid (22), from Buncrana; and Damien McLaughlin (21), from Buncrana all died at the scene.

The driver of the second car, Hughie Friel (66) from Balyliffin, was also killed as he returned home from bingo.

Sole survivor Shaun Kelly (22), from Buncrana, Co Donegal, who was driving the car in which the young men perished, sustained serious injuries to his face and upper body and underwent treatment in Dublin before being transferred to Letterkenny General Hospital.

He was discharged from hospital in recent weeks but has yet to make a full recovery.

It emerged yesterday that gardai had conducted a preliminary interview with the youth at his family home in Ballymagan.


Superintendent Kevin English, who is heading the investigation, declined to comment on the interview for "operational reasons" but he confirmed that the investigation was "progressing well".

"A substantial number of witnesses have come forward and we have had excellent co-operation from the public," said Supt English.

Gardai are believed to have gathered "substantial evidence" as to the possible causes of the smash, which occurred on the night of the World Cup final.

Results of forensic tests carried out on evidence at the scene are expected in the coming weeks.

Mr Kelly was convicted of dangerous driving in 2007.

At the funerals of the deceased men, relatives stressed that they bore no malice towards the driver.

On the night of the crash, the eight youths piled into the VW Passat after watching the World Cup final in a bar in Clonmany. Most of the passengers were not wearing seat belts.

Another road user, who was overtaken by the Passat, noted that it appeared to be travelling at excessive speed.

Moments after leaving the village, the car first glanced off an oncoming Renault Megane, severing the front wheel, before colliding with the Toyota Corolla being driven by Mr Friel.

Irish Independent

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