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Monday 22 January 2018

'They were dead, it was too late to help them' - Local man recalls the horror of tragic car crash that left three dead

The Garda Traffic Corps and Road Safety Authority have urged drivers to take care on the roads as the August bank holiday approaches
The Garda Traffic Corps and Road Safety Authority have urged drivers to take care on the roads as the August bank holiday approaches
Catherine Devine

Catherine Devine

Last month three young people lost their lives in a head-on car collision in Co Donegal.

Local farmer Hugh Sweeney was the first person to arrive at the scene of the tragic crash.

“I was on my way home from Dublin and I came across it on the road. I was that badly shocked I just didn’t know. I saw the first car and the person hanging out of it dead. I was shocked,” Hugh told RTÉ’s Liveline.

Two men and a woman were killed when two cars crashed head-on in an area known as Corravaddy, around five miles from Letterkenny.

Theresa Robinson (20), Kaylem Ó Murachaidh (19) and Steven McCafferty (19) all lost their lives in the accident.  

They were pronounced dead at the scene. A fourth person, a male, survived and was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital.

Read More: Three killed in head-on crash as week's road death toll hits double figures

 “I was probably there for about ten minutes before I realised that there was three people dead. I dialled home and 999 because there was wile bad coverage. I had to run down the road about 50 yards before I could get coverage to ring 999.”

Hugh told Joe Duffy that he had difficulty getting gardai to the scene as he was first connected to Dublin and then the gardai in Letterkenny weren’t familiar with the area.

“It was 12:20pm and it happened a wee while before that because the lady in the car was cold. I rang 999 and it put me through to Dublin, then put me through to Letterkenny and the boy in the place wasn’t all that sure, he asked me to spell it he didn’t know where the place was and he said he’d call me back.

"I went back to the accident; my son had come down with a lamp then to help me. That’s when I realised there was three people dead,” Hugh said.

“They were dead; it was too late to help them.”

Another man called Packie Bradley arrived on the scene before the emergency services and helped Hugh.

“(The crash) was probably five mile from Letterkenny and eight mile from Ballybofey. I was there roughly 15 to 20 mins on my own before the emergency services arrived.

“I was doing good until I went down to the second car and saw the two people dead. I started to tremble. The driver was on the road on his hands and knees about 20 yards away from the car.”

When the emergency services arrived the three young people were pronounced dead.

“I wasn’t in good form for a week after but now I’m dead on. I was in bad form the next day. I didn’t do too much,” said Hugh.

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