Three men killed in horror smash on A1 dual carriageway
A "big-hearted" Gaelic footballer was one of three men killed in the crash, Queen's University GAA said
A roads tragedy which saw the deaths of three young men travelling in the same car in Co Down has been described as "horrific" by a politician.
Lagan Valley DUP MLA Brenda Hale was speaking as police confirmed three fatalities in the two-car smash on the A1 dual-carriageway between Banbridge and Dromore around 5.30pm yesterday.
Two of the men were aged 20 and one age 19.
One of those killed, Peter Hughes, was described as a "perfect role model" in a tribute by his former former school principal Jarlath Burns.
He described the former St Paul's of Bessbrook pupil as a "total charmer".
A "big-hearted" Gaelic footballer was how Queen's University GAA described Peter.
It posted: "It is with great sadness that we learned of sudden death along with two friends of our fresher footballer and friend Peter Hughes yesterday evening.
"A great character and a footballer with a big heart, the club and his team mates will miss him badly.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Peter's mother, father, brothers and sister."
Queen's GAA tweeted: "Devastated at the passing of fresher footballer and Dromintee man Peter Hughes (number 5)."
Devastated at the passing of Fresher footballer & Dromintee man Peter Hughes (nbr5). Go ndeana dia trocaire ar a anam pic.twitter.com/EXO4WXHTnE— Queens GAA (@QueensGAA) August 24, 2015
The two other students have been named locally as Conall Havern from outside Newry (20) and Gavin Sloan (20) from Kilkeel area.
It is understood they were all Queen's University students who shared a flat together in Belfast.
The men were travelling in a red Vauxhall Corsa that was involved in a collision with a black coloured Volkswagen Tiguan on the Northbound carriageway.
The female driver of the Volkswagen was taken to hospital for treatment for her injuries that are not believed to be life threatening.
Inspector Stephen Humphries is appealing for anyone who was travelling on the A1 Dual Carriageway yesterday evening and who witnessed the collision to contact local Police at Banbridge or the Collision Investigation Unit on the non-emergency number 101.
The accident came during reports of flooding on roads because of heavy rain.
Mrs Hale said: "That is in the heart of my constituency. It is three young people involved at a time when people are getting ready to go back to school and university and this is the last news any parent wants to hear.
"My heartfelt sympathies and prayers go out to the families involved. Nobody wants that knock on the door."
Lagan Valley DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said: "My prayers are with those involved in this horrific collision, their families and the emergency services."
He added: "There is an ongoing programme to upgrade the A1 and make it safer and this collision again highlights the need for that programme of work to be escalated so that this major road linking Belfast with Dublin gets the priority it deserves." DUP councillor Mark Baxter lives close to the scene and he said last night: "My thoughts are with those involved and the families of those involved in this accident."
Our Head Boy of 2013/4 Peter Hughes RIP. You will live long in our hearts. A perfect role model and a total charmer. pic.twitter.com/CaL04SM4ai— Jarlath Burns (@jburns834) August 24, 2015
A number of people on Facebook said the road conditions were treacherous because of heavy rain.
Kim Bowman said: "Awful news, was on that road around that time and the driving conditions were awful."
Victoria Huggan said: "Happened literally two minutes in front of us, the conditions on the A1 were appalling this evening. A very frightening thing and devastating that three lives have been lost. RIP." Philip Mackey said: "Awful news, I was on the A1 just before the accident happened and it was in a treacherous condition, severe flooding in a number of places."
The A1 is one of the most dangerous roads in Northern Ireland. Last year two nuns from the Sisters of Mercy order in Belfast, Sister Frances Forde and Sister Marie Duddy, died after their car was in a collision with a police vehicle.
Also this weekend, a 19-year-old man was killed and two people injured in a car crash in Burnfoot, Co Donegal.
In another incident, four people were injured following a two-vehicle collision near Ballynure, Co Antrim, just after 11am yesterday. The accident involved a Ford Focus and a Citroen C5.