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Young Ballymena woman Karla Cameron dies after crash in fog at notorious Antrim junction

Tributes have been paid to the "lovely woman who would do anything for anyone"

By Cate McCurry and Nevin Farrell

Published 12/02/2016

Karla Cameron (25) who died following a car crash on Thursday morning. She is pictured with her husband of three years David.
Karla Cameron (25) who died following a car crash on Thursday morning. She is pictured with her husband of three years David.
The scene of the accident just outside Ballymena

A young woman has died in hospital after a two-vehicle crash on the main road between Antrim and Ballymena.

She was 25-year-old Karla Cameron from the Ballymena area.

The young woman was fighting for her life in Antrim Area Hospital following the collision on the notorious A26 Lisnevenagh Road during rush hour yesterday morning when heavy fog had made visibility extremely poor.

Lisnevenagh Road was closed following the crash close to its junction with Woodgreen Road.

The crash was reported to police just after 9.50am and involved a black Audi A6 and blue Seat Leon.

The early-morning crash caused huge tailbacks for commuters travelling to Antrim and Ballymena after both lanes were closed to traffic.

Karla was a former pupil of Cambridge House Grammar School in Ballymena.

Hundreds of tributes have been paid online to Karla who has been remembered as a "lovely woman who would do anything for anyone".

She was a member of Ballee Baptist Church in Ballymena, and last night Pastor Lawrence Kennedy from the church was at the hospital with her.

Members of the public stopped to help those caught up in the collision, which included the driver of a blue Seat Leon.

Lisnevenagh Road, which is the main dual carriageway between Ballymena and Antrim, has been the scene of many fatalities over the years.

The latest crash happened almost a year to the day after Avril Dempster, from nearby Ahoghill, was killed in an crash at the same junction.

Local politicians and residents have raised concerns over the road's safety.

Last year SDLP councillor Declan O'Loan called for a full review in the wake of a fatal collision.

And just weeks ago UUP Assembly Member Robin Swann asked the Regional Development Minister for an update on a safety review currently under way, saying that the road had been the scene of a number of "serious and fatal accidents".

Transport NI is carrying out the review from one end of the road at Ballee in Ballymena to the other at Dunsilly outside Antrim.

The update is now expected within weeks.

Mid and East Antrim councillor Beth Adger told the Belfast Telegraph that she has been calling for traffic-calming measures in the area for 14 years.

"There has been quite a number of fatalities in that part of the crossroads," she said.

"It's a dangerous road and the traffic will not slow down, especially coming over the nearby hill. Everyone seems to be in a rush.

"I live on that main stretch of the road and I know what it's like trying to get out there in the morning.

"You put your life in your hands trying to get across the dual carriageway.

"The Roads Service has been looking at it, but as yet they have not come up with anything that will slow the traffic down.

"I've asked for more police presence on it, but I know they are busy. There are so many sideroads coming on to that carriageway, and I think that's the problem.

"It is just made worse in the heavy fog.

"I'm living there for over 30 years and the new road has been there for 20 years, and I think there has been well over a dozen killed on it. It's time for the Roads Service to do something about it.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the woman who has been injured."

TUV leader and North Antrim MLA Jim Allister last night issued a call for long-overdue improvements to be carried out.

"Today's further severe accident at Woodgreen junction on the A26 is a tragic reminder to the Government of the continuing failure to seriously address the fundamental issues at this death-trap junction," he said.

"After the death last February, there was supposed to be a full review.

"I said then, and I repeat, if this was a junction on the A1 towards Dublin, then it probably would have been upgraded with a fly-over and properly graded access lanes. The A26 deserves no less priority."

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council deputy mayor Timothy Gaston added: "Having come across the scene of this accident today, I am perturbed not just by its dire consequences, but the fact that once more this junction has proved to be a major hazard on the A26.

"We have had enough talk. We need action from the Department for Regional Development Minister."

Inspector Heather Scott said: “I would ask anyone who would have noticed either of these cars in the area between 9.30am and 10am to contact the Collision Investigation Unit or Ballymena Police Station on the non emergency number 101.”

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