Man dies after witnessing aftermath of fatal crash

Road traffic accident
Road traffic accident

A community has been left “traumatised” in the wake of a double tragedy in which a man died after witnessing the aftermath of a fatal road crash.

The incident unfolded close to a turkey business shortly after 6.30am.

A car accident led to the death of a woman, aged 58. She died at the scene.

She was understood to have been an employee of the factory, which is called McKeown Fine Foods and is situated between Portglenone and Rasharkin.

Immediately after the crash, Conor McKeown – who manages the Townhill Road business alongside his brother – came out to the scene.

He then succumbed to a heart attack.

Paramedics tried to aid Mr McKeown, who described as a “quiet, hard-working fella” by his parish priest.

He was taken to Causeway Hospital, but did not survive.

A man, aged 21, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving following the crash.

He was later released pending further enquiries.

Father John Murray, Parish Priest of St Mary’s Chapel in Rasharkin, had spoken to Mr McKeown’s mother Veronica on Friday, and said the whole family are “big churchgoers”.

He said Mr McKeown’s funeral will be held at the chapel on Monday.

The Northern Trust, which runs Causeway Hospital, said he was 46 (though the Ambulance Service initially believed him to be in his 30s).

He lived near to the plant, was married and had children.

Father Murray said: “The McKeowns are very, very kind and generous people – good people.

“He went up to attend to the accident at their gates, and then he went down to the house to get something, and he took a heart attack down there.

“I don’t know whether it was a phone or something or other, but he went down for something that they needed and – God love him – he took a massive heart attack...

“The shock of seeing that – nothing prepares you for that.”

Father Murray added: “It’s desperate.

“The parish will be traumatised by it. They’ll be traumatised by it, traumatised by it.”

SDLP North Antrim Assembly candidate Connor Duncan also knew of Mr McKeown.

“I just think it’s such a tragic story in the mouth of Christmas,” he said.

He said his own family had been “touched by tragedy” when his brother Rory Duncan died after a crash on the Glenshane Pass around eight years ago, and he added: “From our perspective it brings these things home... I’ve no doubt the village of Rasharkin and the surrounding area will rally behind both families at such a tragic time.”

He added that it was a “very dangerous” road, with a number of dips and twists in it.

In January Sinn Fein representatives from the area had campaigned to make it safer.

Mr Duncan added: “People have just been talking all day. I think it’s just extreme sadness in the village, because everyone knew both families in some shape or form.”

Norman Worthington, pastor of Portglenone’s Bethel Temple and who also runs two charity shops in the settlement, said: “You just feel for the whole family – the family circles on both sides.

“It is horrendous. Words fail you. It’s so sad for the families coming up to Christmas... It’s really unbelievable.”