Hundreds attend vigil for family bus crash victims

time:2023-06-03 03:23:06source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:news

Hundreds of have people gathered for a vigil to remember the three members of a family who died in a minibus crash in Aughnacloy, County Tyrone.

The victims have been named locally as Dan McKane, his sister Christine McKane and their aunt Julia McSorley.

They were killed when their minibus collided with a lorry on the A5 Tullyvar Road on Thursday morning.

The family had been returning home to Strabane, County Tyrone, from an aunt's funeral in England when it happened.

Four others who were in the minibus suffered serious injuries.

Father Declan Boland, a priest in Strabane, said the family and the community in the town were in total disbelief at the tragedy.

"The community are struggling to comprehend what is happening," he told the BBC's The North West Today programme.

"We have to face into the horror of the bodies coming home and then the funerals."

Fr Boland visited the home of Ms McKane on Thursday where people had come together to pay tribute.

"People were just gathering in groups, not saying an awful lot but just being there in silent solidarity, embracing one another," he said.

"It really is a silent witness where words are really inadequate."

Two people who were badly injured in the crash had emergency surgery in Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital will pull through, added the priest.

Speaking at the vigil in Strabane on Friday evening, he said the community had come together to "stand in solidarity" with the family and grieving relatives.

The community then prayed the rosary in memory of the victims and in support of those who were injured.

"It's just important to show the family that we're all with them," one woman attending the vigil told BBC News NI.

"It's a tragic loss for the town of Strabane."

Another vigil-goer said: "The family are well known so it's hit every part of the community.

"As you can see today, the community has come out in force and they will do over the next [few] days to make sure that the family has support."

Keiron Tourish, BBC News NI's north-west reporter in Strabane

There's a palpable sense of shock and disbelief in Strabane in the wake of this tragedy.

People attending morning Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Barrack Street said they were heartbroken at the deaths.

"I can't believe that they were over in England for a funeral and returning home when this happened. It's terrible, just terrible," said one woman.

Another woman said she was going to Mass to pray for the family and light a candle for them: "It's just such an awful tragedy."

Friends of the McKane family said they are lovely people and are completely devastated by what has happened.

Thursday's fatal crash is the latest to happen on the A5 road, which links the north-west with Dublin in the Republic of Ireland.

Plans to upgrade the road between Aughnacloy and New Buildings in County Londonderry were announced in 2007.

But they have been delayed amid funding issues and legal challenges.

The Department for Infrastructure said the estimated cost of the project was £1.6bn - up £400m since the last estimate.

Campaigners from Enough Is Enough, a group calling for the upgrade to take place, previously said 44 people have died on the road since 2007.

Alan Kilpatrick, who lives on the road where the crash happened, said it was dangerous.

He was one of the first people to arrive at the scene of the crash on Thursday morning.

"I don't want to see what I saw again... because this is avoidable with a better road," he told the BBC News NI.

He said there was a high volume of traffic on the road, including heavy commercial vehicles trying to navigate small roads.

"Here is a main road between the largest city on the island, the whole north-west of the island and it's absolutely horrendous."

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