Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland traffic chaos after fatal crash closes Belfast's Westlink

By Jonathan Bell

A fatal accident on Belfast's Westlink led to gridlock as commuters headed home yesterday evening.

A driving a white Ford Fiesta died after it appeared to hit a wall close to Roden Street just before 3pm.

Following a 999 call the Ambulance Service sent two rapid response vehicles, one officer and an A&E crew immediately to the scene.

The authorities were forced to close the Westlink, one of the city's busiest roads, for almost five hours after the collision to allow emergency services to clear the wreckage and investigate the scene.

Diversions remained in place until almost 8pm.

The road finally reopened shortly after that when the crashed vehicle was finally removed.

Unaware of the tragic circumstances, many commuters took to social media to complain about the lengthy delays in getting home and long queues of people waiting on buses.

One woman said she was faced with a two-hour wait in traffic on the gridlocked Westlink.

Another said she abandoned the bus halfway through her journey to walk the rest of the way home. Chief Inspector Norman Haslett said the police had a duty of care to investigate the incident and had no option but to close the road.

He added: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their patience and understanding during the closure.

"We are aware of the difficulties and frustration caused by this closure and the major delays and inconvenience caused to commuters and families trying to get home.

"It is with reluctance that we close any road, particularly a busy thoroughfare such as the Westlink.

"However, following any fatal road traffic collision police have an obligation to carry out a full and thorough investigation into the exact circumstances of the collision and the scene must be closed in order for that investigation to take place."

Meanwhile, police were forced to close a road in Cookstown following another serious crash last night.

Motorists were advised to avoid the Lough Fea Road.

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