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Community devastated as 'one in million' Caoimhe (23) killed in late-night car crash

By Donna Deeney

Published 15/10/2016

Caoimhe O’Brien, who died in an accident on a notorious road
Caoimhe O’Brien, who died in an accident on a notorious road
Scene of the crash on Victoria Road between Derry and Strabane

Tributes have been paid to a young Co Tyrone woman who has become the latest person to be killed on Northern Ireland's roads.

Caoimhe O'Brien (23) passed away after her Ford Focus crashed on a notorious stretch of Victoria Road between Londonderry and Strabane, near Burndennett. No other vehicles were involved.

Ms O'Brien is the 54th person to die on the province's roads this year.

She was described as "amazing" and "a gem" by her many heartbroken friends, who have been left devastated by news of her death.

Fr Roland Calhoun, from Newtownstewart Parish, where prayers have been said for Ms O'Brien, was called to the scene of the fatal crash in the early hours of Friday morning.

"It is harrowing to be at the scene of a fatal crash, but the spiritual input at difficult times like this is important," he explained.

"I prayed for Caoimhe's soul at the scene and then I met with her parents, brother and sister, and consoled them in their grief.

"We prayed for Caoimhe and her family at Mass and will continue to remember them in the days to come.

"Right now, the family is waiting to have Caoimhe's remains returned and make arrangements."

Tributes were paid online as the tragic news filtered through the small community of Douglas Bridge on the outskirts of Strabane, where Caoimhe lived with her parents.

Among those who posted comments in remembrance of Ms O'Brien was Grace Mortimore, who wrote: "Heartbreaking to say the least, another life taken so young. You were a gem Caoimhe."

Another friend, Michelle Marie Maguire, added: "Such heartbreaking news, so close to Christmas too.

"You were a great girl. I have so many memories to cherish of the times we spent together. Some even have me laughing right now.

"You were taken way too soon - you will always be in my thoughts. Keeping the family in my prayers over the next few days."

Caitlin McGrath, meanwhile, described her friend as "one in a million". She added: "You were an amazing girl, and I will be forever grateful I knew you. I'll forever cherish our memories."

Daniel McCrossan, an SDLP MLA for West Tyrone, said the sadness at Ms O'Brien's death had reverberated right through the town of Strabane.

He added: "Caoimhe was really well known and popular and her death has affected people deeply.

"Our thoughts and deep condolences are with her parents and her sister and brother first and foremost.

"They are the latest family to lose someone they love on the roads this year, which have claimed too many lives.

"Sadly, it is our roads that are the biggest killer of young people and the rural roads of West Tyrone are particularly dangerous."

Police were called to the accident scene shortly before midnight on Thursday.

Investigating officers appealed for anyone who was on the Victoria Road and who may have witnessed the crash to contact them.

Sergeant Lawrence Speer said: "I would ask anyone who noticed the blue Ford Focus in the area late last night (Thursday) to contact Strabane police station or the collision investigation unit on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1427 of 13/10/16."

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