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Coroner calls for action at Ballymena accident blackspot junction where gran Avril Dempster was killed in collision

By Joanne Fleming

Published 18/08/2016

Crash: Avril Dempster
Crash: Avril Dempster

A coroner has called for safety measures on a road where a woman travelling home from visiting her newborn grandchild was killed.

Avril Dempster, from Ahoghill, died in a two-car smash after turning right on to the Lisnevenagh Road dual carriageway near Ballymena on February 10 last year.

The 57-year-old catering assistant had been visiting her daughter, who had given birth in Antrim Area Hospital.

She was returning home at around 8.30pm when the crash occurred. She died at the scene from multiple injuries.

An inquest held at Antrim Courthouse yesterday heard that Mrs Dempster joined the dual carriageway from the Woodgreen Road junction and was attempting to make it to the central reservation in her Ford Focus when the collision with a BMW car occurred.

The court heard she was not wearing recently prescribed driving glasses.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said he was concerned to learn from police that there had been 17 traffic collisions at the same junction in a 10-year period and one fatality since Mrs Dempster's death.

The owner of the BMW, David Moore, said he was driving around the legal limit of 70mph.

Distressed as he gave his evidence, he said he tried to swerve when he suddenly saw the car.

"I was driving along and then there is a car in front of me," he said. When the coroner asked if he would have done anything differently, he replied: "Possibly I should have been in the inside lane."

Addressing Mrs Dempster's family, he said: "I would just like to say I am sorry for what has happened."

While two witnesses suggested the BMW was driving too fast for the road, forensic scientist David Nicholson told the court he estimated it was travelling at between 46mph and 66mph at the time of impact. "The Ford would have been travelling at a relatively slow speed prior to impact," he added. Extending his sympathies to the Dempster family, Mr McGurgan said: "I am concerned enough as a coroner at the number of accidents at this particular junction.

"I am going to write to the minister and ask him to address the concerns."

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