Belfast Telegraph

Newry Canal car tragedy: fresh safety calls after mum dies

By Claire Williamson

Renewed calls to improve a "treacherous" stretch of road have been made after a woman's car plunged in to the Newry Canal.

The mother-of-four died after she came off the Fathom line, also known as the Omeath Road, outside Newry on Tuesday.

Patricia Campbell (50) had two sons and two daughters in their late teens to early 20s.

She also leaves behind her husband Ian.

Her distraught family were yesterday coming to terms with the loss of Mrs Campbell who was described as "kind-hearted".

Local residents described the stretch of road as "treacherous" and said it had claimed the lives of many over the years.

No other vehicle was involved in the incident.

The winding road which runs alongside the canal has had safety barriers added in recent years but they do not stretch the full length of the road.

The Fathom Line is just down from Newry Canal's harbour area, the Albert Basin. It is the main route to Omeath and Carlingford from Newry.

Many accidents have taken place on the Fathom Line in past years and it is paved with reminders of its peril.

As you enter the road from Newry there is a memorial for another life taken by the road.

In 2012, 61-year-old Pat McArdle died when his car left the road and in 2004 Geraldine McErlean (42) from Belfast died in the same way.

In 2007 a Belfast family narrowly escaped death when their car went into the same waterway.

Yesterday there were two orange cones at the side of the road by the water where it's believed the accident happened.

Independent councillor Jackie Patterson said further barriers could be the answer.

He said: "From the Albert Basin and down the road could be upgraded – there is room for improvement.

"It's a very narrow road and there are a lot of heavy goods vehicles up on that road from the port."

He added: "The Road Service should look at the road and see what they can do in order to stop any other accidents and put in place some measures that would prevent certain cars from accessing the canal.

"The barriers are the answer."

SDLP councillor John McArdle said the road along the old ship canal had a black history.

"In my lifetime I am aware of at least 10 cars going off into the canal – most ended in fatalities," he said.

Story so far

The Fathom Line, also known as the Omeath Road, has claimed numerous lives over the years.

The narrow, winding road begins just down from Newry Canal's harbour area and runs alongside the former ship canal.

The latest death has prompted calls for improvements to be made to the road to prevent it claiming more lives.

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