Belfast Telegraph

Tributes to friends killed in horrific 4am car smash

BY MICHELLE SMYTH

Two young men have died in a horrific Mother's Day road crash

The men, both only in their 20s, have been named as Robert Wilkinson and Grant Archer.

They were travelling along the Old Coagh Road in Cookstown, Co Tyrone shortly before 4am on Sunday when the driver lost control.

The Citroen Xsara car crashed through two gardens and ended up on its side.

The two men were pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. There were no other vehicles involved in the accident.

Police and the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene.

PSNI Inspector Rod Flood described the crash as a "scene of carnage".

The road was closed to traffic for a period yesterday as the car was taken away.

Mr Archer (23), from Newmills just outside Cookstown, was a former pupil of Drumglass High School. He was an employee of Muldoon Transport Systems where he worked as a sprayer.

Mr Archer's Facebook page revealed his love of motorbikes and cars and he has photo albums dedicated to his passion.

He was also a member of the Stephen McAdoo racing group on the social media site.

Mr Wilkinson (28) is a former pupil of Cookstown High School and lived in the town's Lammy Road. He too was a fan of cars and it would seem a mutual love of motorsport brought the two friends together.

The two deaths bring the number of fatalities on our roads this year to 16.

Local UUP councillor Trevor Wilson said his thoughts were with the two grieving families.

"This is a terrible tragedy and awful news for two mothers and the rest of the family of these two young men to hear today," he said.

"It was shocking news for the people of Cookstown to wake up to this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this sad time."

Sinn Fein councillor Cathal Mallaghan said it was a "very sad time" for everyone in Cookstown.

"It is a terrible tragedy. Especially on such a day as Mothering Sunday. I would just like to remind everyone to always take care on our roads, no matter how good a driver they think they are," he said.

DUP MLA Ian McCrea expressed his sympathy saying he was deeply "shocked and saddened" at the news.

"I want to assure the families of both young men that they are in my thoughts and prayers as well as those from within their local communities," he said.

Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone added: "The loss of any life in these circumstances is a tragedy but the fact that these two men were so young will only deepen the hurt the community is feeling.

"I want to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the two men whose lives have now been turned upside down as they begin grieving for their loved ones. This will be a very difficult time and they'll need all the support they can get from neighbours and friends."

Police are appealing to anyone with any information or anyone who witnessed the accident to contact Cookstown Police Station on the new non emergency number 101.

A trail of destruction, a community numbed in shock

By Jack Brennan

The trail of destruction left by the tragic road accident which left two young men dead, and a rural, close-knit community in mourning was clear for all to see.

A wooden fence which once ringed the garden of a small house on the Old Coagh Road in Cookstown lay destroyed, as if a tornado had scythed through it.

Grant Archer (23) and 28-year-old Robert Wilkinson died when their car careered into a fence and through two gardens eventually ending up on its side in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The carnage stretched for more than 40 metres through the garden of one property and into another, as branches and masonry lay scattered across the front lawn.

The stretch of road where the accident occurred is straight and narrow, with fields on one side of the road, and a handful of houses on the left.

The owner of one of the houses was yesterday picking up the pieces of what remained of his garden, clearly still in shock of what had happened in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph while nailing down part of his battered fence back into the ground he described the accident as tragic.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said that people in the area have been left devastated.

"Everything is still a bit blurry to be honest," he said.

"I actually didn't hear anything until I heard and saw the blue lights flashing, that's when I knew something bad had happened."

But it was too late for the resident to do anything, as as the emergency services took over the scene.

"Whenever I came out there was already firemen and ambulance guys doing what they were doing so I didn't need to help."

Passing motorists stopped at the scene yesterday, one after another, to ask him just what had happened.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph