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Tyrone community plunged into mourning after road carnage claims lives of Jayne Burnside, Bernie McNicoll and Sean McElwee

By Staff Reporters

Published 13/04/2015

Jane Burnside from Cookstown, died after being struck by a vehicle as she walked along Gortagammon Road, at Tullhogue
Jane Burnside from Cookstown, died after being struck by a vehicle as she walked along Gortagammon Road, at Tullhogue
Floral tribute: the scene of the crash on the Moneymore Road, Cookstown
Road victim: Sean McElwee from Cookstown died in an accident in Strabane
Jane Burnside from Cookstown, died after being struck by a vehicle as she walked along Gortagammon Road, at Tullhogue

A rural community has been plunged into grief after a young woman, a man and a mother-of-two were killed in three separate road accidents in just 24 hours.

The three collisions happened in different parts of Tyrone over the weekend but all the victims were from the same area of the county.

Their deaths are the latest in a recent spate of fatalities after collisions on Northern Ireland's roads - seven since the beginning of April. A Co Londonderry man was also killed in the Republic.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Chris Noble he couldn't remember a period as bad in recent history for road deaths.

The total number of road deaths in Northern Ireland this year is now 19 - two more than this time last year.

"Seven deaths only halfway through April is horrendous," Mr Noble told Radio Ulster's Sunday News.

"The critical thing that I can do is pass on my sympathies and my condolences to the families, because the impact for them will stretch far beyond this particular weekend."

Jayne Burnside (23) from Tullyhogue, near Cookstown, was killed after she was struck by a vehicle just before 1am on Saturday.

She was walking along the Gortagammon Road close to her home when she was hit.

Meanwhile, a man has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving after Sean McElwee from Cookstown was killed.

He died after a car and a lorry were involved in a collision on the Melmount Road near Strabane at around 10pm on Saturday.

Less than five hours later, mother-of-two Bernie McNicholl from Moneymore died after her car struck a tree on the Moneymore Road at 2.30am.

The chairwoman of the Mid Ulster Council, Linda Dillon, said it had come as a shock that three people from such a small area had been killed in one weekend. She said: "This is devastating for the families and close friends."

The councillor, who knows the family of the Moneymore woman, paid tribute to the mother.

"She comes from a big family in Derrylaughin and they are very well known and she's a lovely person, a very good person," she said.

"It's devastating for her grown-up children. My thoughts are with them at this time."

Meanwhile, hundreds of tributes have flooded the Fr Rocks GAA Facebook page for club groundsman Mr McElwee.

They said: "Such was his dedication, he very often went beyond the call of duty in carrying out this vital role at our club.

"His devotion to the club was evident in the meticulous way he went about looking after everything at the club grounds - all done without fuss and in a most unassuming manner.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Francie and the McElwee family at this most difficult time."

DUP MLA for the area, Ian McCrea, said: "When we hear of any fatal traffic accident, it fills us with a deep sense of tragedy.

"But in the case of Jayne Burnside - who was only 23 years old - mid-Ulster will be united in grief at the loss of someone so young and in such tragic circumstances. I also wanted to assure the families of Bernie McNicoll as well as Sean McElwee, from Cookstown, one death on our roads is one too many and a tragedy in itself. However, three deaths is horrendous."

Elsewhere, the school attended by P7 pupil Jamie Foat has paid tribute to the 11-year-old who died after a two-vehicle collision in Enniskillen at the start of the month.

Jamie was a pupil at Cairnshill Primary School, Ballylenaghan, south Belfast.

In a statement on its website, the school said: "Jamie's sudden death as a result of a road accident during the Easter holidays has come as a great shock to our whole school community.

"He was a valued, loved, exuberant boy who particularly excelled in football and sport. He will be greatly missed by all staff and pupils.

"We would like to express our heartfelt condolences and sincere sympathy to Jamie's parents and other family members at this extremely sad and tragic time."

Factfile

Road victims since the start of April were Johnny Black (19) from Ballycastle and Robin Wilson (26) from Armoy, who died after a collision outside Ballycastle. Motorcyclist David Anderson (42) from Coleraine died after a crash. Schoolboy Jamie Foat (11) died in a collision in Enniskillen. Richard Patterson (45), from Castlerock, died after his lorry overturned.

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