Death of Belfast man Paul Donnelly in rural crash sends roads toll to 68 in Northern Ireland
The death of a man in a two-car crash in Co Down has led to calls for more safety measures on rural roads.
Thirty-six-year-old Paul Donnelly, from the Colinview area of west Belfast, died at the scene on the Magheraknock Road, Ballynahinch on Saturday evening.
A five-year-old girl in the Ford Focus car with Mr Donnelly was injured and is in a stable condition at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
A 32-year-old man who was travelling in the second car, a Vauxhall Vectra, is also in a stable condition in hospital.
It is understood the crash was a head-on collision at a dip in the rural road about three miles outside Ballynahinch.
One resident living nearby reported hearing a "big bang" at around 7.30pm.
Two ambulance crews and a rapid response vehicle attended the scene, but Mr Donnelly died before he could be taken to hospital.
His death brings the total number of people killed on our roads so far this year to 68.
A total of 79 people lost their lives in 2014, 22 more than the 57 who perished in 2013.
SDLP councillor Mark Murnin visited the scene of the crash yesterday, which remained closed to the public until Sunday afternoon.
"This is a bad stretch of the road," he said. "A motorcyclist was killed very close to the same spot around two years ago. A Ballynahinch man was also killed half a mile or so up the road."
Mr Murnin said a 16-year-old girl was also left in a critical condition in March following a one-vehicle crash on the Magheraknock Road.
"This is just one thing that the statistics hide, that the majority of these types of crashes occur on rural roads," he said.
"The Magheraknock Road is our main link to the motorway. People use that road to go to Belfast.
"This is two to three miles from the town, but it is still a pretty rural road.
"We need to look at widening it and doing something with the blind spots."
Mr Murnin said he would be contacting the Department for Regional Development on the issue.
"I will be raising issues surrounding a number of roads to see if we can improve safety," he said.
Councillor Terry Andrews offered his condolences to the family of the man killed.
"No matter what time of year this is tragic, but coming up to Christmas it is very, very sad," he said. "I would like to offer my condolences and prayers and I am thinking of those who are still in hospital. I know all involved will be in the thoughts of the community here.
"I would certainly take my time on the Magheraknock Road. It can be a bendy, twisty road and it is a major arterial route between Ballynahinch and Lisburn."
Police at Lisburn are appealing for information on the crash.
Inspector Barney O'Connor said investigating officers are keen to hear from anyone who saw the Vauxhall Vectra and Ford Focus cars before the collision or who came across the scene immediately afterwards. They can be contacted on 101.
Yesterday police also arrested a man on suspicion of drink-driving following a one-vehicle collision on the M1.
The car ended up on its roof on the east-bound carriageway between junction nine and junction 10 shortly before 1pm.