Belfast Telegraph

Pregnant rally fan was crouching with camera when hit

By Tom Brady, Barry Duggan and Luke Byrne

Expectant mother Caroline Cleary was crouched on her hunkers with a camera when she was struck and killed by an out-of-control rally car in Co Cavan, gardai disclosed last night.

A keen motor racing fan and rally co-driver, she was squatting beside a barrier to take photographs of her partner, Sean Hayde, who was taking part in the Cavan rally.

The second fatal victim, Joe Lane, a part-time sports photographer, was standing to the left of her.

Gardai said last night that neither of them had an opportunity to escape as the car careered towards them.

Officers, who looked at video footage and photographs of the accident as well as interviewing witnesses, said the death toll could have been much higher.

There were around 30 people gathered at the popular vantage point near Bailieborough, Co Cavan, on Sunday, to watch the rally cars travel at speed over the crest of a hill on to a straight stretch of road.

But the black Mark 2 Ford Escort appeared to veer to the left as it was airborne and the driver was unable to bring it under control before it turned over on its side, struck the barrier and ploughed into a group of nine people in its path.

A forensic examination of the car by specially trained collision investigators will now be a key part of the investigation.

The vehicle check will be resumed this morning at Bailieborough garda station as experts try to determine if there were any mechanical problems.

Gardai said their investigation will also focus on the circumstances leading up to the accident while co-operating with the rally authorities in examining the planning of the event.

Meanwhile, two brothers struck by the rally car remained in separate hospitals last night with serious injuries.

John Looby underwent five hours of surgery in Tallaght Hospital yesterday while his older brother Michael remains in Beaumont Hospital.

Mick and Joan Looby, from Lisronagh, Co Tipperary, were at their sons' bedsides in Dublin yesterday.

The brothers are popular members of Moyle Rovers GAA club and were described as keen rallying enthusiasts.

Family friends broke down in tears yesterday as they attempted to come to terms with the brothers' ordeal.

Michael -- aged in his late 30s -- is married to Karen Morris Looby and lives in Clonmel. The couple have two sons.

John, who is in his early 30s, has worked with Pinewood Laboratories and also works as a caretaker with his local GAA club.

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