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Latest in long line of road tragedies for Buncrana

By Brendan McDaid

The Co Donegal locality where eight men were killed in a horror road accident has experienced many car tragedies.

The picturesque Inishowen peninsula has been plunged into mourning all too often.

In one dreadful 18-month period, 25 people under the age of 25 died in road collisions in the coastal location.

One of the worst accidents before last night's horror smash was in October, 2005, when five people were killed.

The victims on that occasion were Gavin Duffy, Darren Quinn, Charlene O'Connor, all 21, David Steele (23) and 22-year-old Rochelle Peoples.

Over three years later, a psychiatric nurse Brendan Henderson pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court to dangerous driving in connection with the incident.

The 50-year-old, from Derry's Waterside, crashed into the car the five friends were travelling in at Quigley's Point, Co Donegal, in the early hours of October 8.

All five were from the Inishowen peninsula where the crash happened.

Only a few months later, in February 2006, another five people were killed in a two-car collision.

Aija Porcika (38), from Liepaja in western Latvia, had collected her 19-year-old student daughter, Ginta Veite, at Dublin airport and was returning to Buncrana with friends, Marita Kerpe (28) and Ricardas Bielskis (35).

Their car was in a head-on collision with another vehicle occupied by two Latvian men, including Danielius Abartis (23) also from Liepaja. The two Latvian men had earlier been at a local nightclub.

The Audi car in which they were travelling had failed to stop at the scene of a minor collision minutes before the fatal crash. Soon after 4am, gardai on public order duty saw a car with two male occupants "driving erratically" on the main street of Buncrana.

Aija Porcika had been nearing the end of her journey back to Buncrana after being reunited with her daughter Ginta.

Ginta's flight had arrived in at 12.45am and, more than three hours later, the group was nearly home after a long day.

Their car passed Burnfoot and the stretch of road where gardai were about to set up a checkpoint to stop the Audi. At 4.20am, 3.5km outside Buncrana, on a notorious bend known locally as 'Beach Halt', their VW Vento was in a head-on collision with the Audi.

Less than two years before, in July, 2004, three teenagers were killed and another was seriously injured following a car crash on the outskirts of Buncrana.

The young people who died were Shane Cuffe (18) and Owen Patrick Doherty (18) from Buncrana and Aine O'Leary (16) from Skerries, Dublin. The four teenagers were in the car when it struck a bridge on a straight stretch of road and overturned into a field at Ballymagan, near Buncrana.

It had been the third fatal accident in the Buncrana area in the previous three weeks, leaving a total of seven young people dead.

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