‘Notorious’ collision blackspot in Co Antrim claims three more lives

Two men and one woman have died following a collision at an accident blackspot crossroads in Co Antrim on Monday morning.

By Mark Rainey
Monday, 27th July 2020, 8:46 pm
Updated Monday, 27th July 2020, 11:38 pm
Paul and Varena Creelman. Picture: McAuley Multimedia
Paul and Varena Creelman. Picture: McAuley Multimedia

They have been named locally as Paul and Varena Creelman and Varena’s brother Phil Hegarty from Kilrea.

All three were travelling in a silver Volkswagen Passat.

Police said the male driver of the second vehicle was taken to hospital as a precaution following the incident at the Lisnahunshin Road/Ballyconnelly Road junction between Cullybackey and Portglenone.

Philip Hegarty. Picture: McAuley Multimedia

The man who escaped serious injury was travelling in a black Audi.

Police have appealed for anyone who witnessed the collision, which occurred around 10.40am, or who has captured any relevant dash cam footage, to come forward.

TUV councillor Timothy Gaston described the junction as a “notorious” accident blackspot.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families involved,” he said.

Police at the scene of an accident on the Lisnahunshin Road/Ballyconnolly Road between Cullybackey and Portglenone. Pic: Steven McAuley/McAuley Multimedia

“The local community has once again been plunged into sadness – that people have lost their lives at this notorious crossroads.”

Two off-duty soldiers on a fishing trip lost their lives in a collision between a car and a tractor at the same crossroads in August 2014.

At an inquest the following year, the site was described as having “a collision history” – with motorists sometimes failing to realise they were approaching a junction.

PSNI Inspector David Anderson said: “I am appealing to anyone who witnessed this collision, or who may have captured dash cam footage, to contact us on 101 quoting reference number 591 27/07/20.”

DUP MLA Mervyn Storey said the community “is reeling with shock and sadness” at reports of the latest tragedy.

The North Antrim representative said: “We can’t begin to imagine the shock and hurt for the loved ones of those who have sadly lost their lives.

“Any death at any time is heartbreaking but in these sudden and tragic circumstances the grief and pain experienced will be even more profound.”

Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan said the local community has been left shocked following the deaths.

“People have been shocked, saddened and devastated by the deaths of three people in a road collision near Portglenone,” he said.

“This is a terrible blow to all those involved in this incident.

“Any death on our roads is one too many and incidents like this are a reminder of the vital importance of road safety,” Mr McGuigan added.

The coroner at the time of the 2015 inquest into the deaths of the two soldiers, John Leckey, said: “I always hope something will arise out of a tragedy that will improve matters and may prevent the occurrence of something similar.”

At the same inquest, a road traffic collision investigator from Forensic Science Northern Ireland described the junction with Ballyconnelly Road as being clearly marked with signs and road markings; however, it was also determined that the soldiers’ car failed to stop at the junction resulting in a collision with a tractor.

Lance Corporal David Gwilt from Bedford, and Rifleman Dale Harris from Barnsley were declared dead at the scene.

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