Belfast Telegraph

Motorcyclist James Campbell (21) killed just yards from Gilford home

By Cate McCurry and Victoria Leonard

A motorcyclist who died yards from his home was the fourth young person to be killed on Co Down's roads this year. James Campbell (21) died at the scene following a collision with a tractor near Gilford.

The incident occurred on the Ballymacanallen Road at around 1.30pm yesterday.

The motorcycle was displaying learner driver plates at the time of the crash.

His fatality came some 15 hours after an 18-year-old man lost his life following a single vehicle collision on the Ballydugan Road outside Downpatrick on Tuesday night.

The PSNI says that he was the driver of a Peugeot 207 car involved in a collision close to the Lake Road junction at around 10.30pm.

It appealed for witnesses to contact local police.

The latest tragedies come a fortnight after the death of 18-year-old Downpatrick man Christopher Martin, who was killed in a crash on the Saintfield Road in Crossgar while returning home from a night out with friends.

Prior to that, on January 14, 18-year-old Matthew Davis, who played for Killyleagh Youth Football Club, also lost his life on the Lisburn Road in Saintfield.

Downpatrick SDLP councillor John Trainor said that the latest deaths had left the Downpatrick community "deeply saddened and with a deep sense of loss".

"This has had a profound impact on the community here and my thoughts and prayers are with the young man's family," he said.

"Christopher Martin died recently at the age of just 18, and to have two lives taken from their families and community in such a short period of time has caused a great feeling of sadness.

"The road where Tuesday night's incident occurred can be dangerous with a number of corners and turns.

"Our roads, unfortunately, take quite a number of lives every year, and I would ask everyone, not just young people, to be mindful of what's happening around them and take care."

South Down SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie described the crash as a "profound tragedy" that she said had "shocked the community in Downpatrick".

"The loss of any life on our roads is a shock but to lose someone so young, with so much to live for, is a profound tragedy," she said.

"My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the families of both young men and friends at this terrible time. I have no doubt that local people will rally around and offer whatever support they can."

Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Gillian Fitzpatrick called the most recent accident "heartbreaking".

"Four young people have lost their lives on local roads so far this year," she said.

"It's unbearably sad and I would like to pass on my condolences to the family and friends of this young person."

South Down Sinn Fein MLA Chris Hazzard also sent his condolences to the young men's family and friends.

He said: "Any death on our roads is one too many."

The Ballymacanallen Road, where Mr Campbell lived, remained closed while investigations into the crash were carried out.

Sinn Fein councillor Kevin Savage said the road was in a very rural area and would be used by a lot of local agricultural vehicles.

He said: "It's awful that yet another life has been claimed on our roads.

"That area is a fairly tight-knit community so everyone will feel the impact of his death.

"It's terrible news for any family to receive and my thoughts and prayers go out to them."

Inspector Gregory Beckett appealed for witnesses: "We would like to hear from anyone who was travelling on the Ballymacanallen Road at around 1.20pm or who witnessed the collision. Please call 101."

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said: "One rapid response vehicle, one doctor and two A&E crews were in attendance at the scene."

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