Belfast Telegraph

Further lives will be lost at 'death-trap' junction unless work is done, warns coroner

By Mark Edwards

A coroner has called a notorious junction in Co Antrim where two women lost their lives a 'death-trap' and has urged a Stormont department to take action to prevent further tragedies.

Mother-of-five Lorraine Clyde (56) from Antrim and mother-of-one Michelle McStravick (35) from Randalstown died on July 25, 2016.

The Citroen C1 they were travelling in was struck by a silver Ford Focus when attempting to join the Church Road in Randalstown at the junction of Moneyrod Road.

Both women were care assistants for Homecare Independent Living in Coleraine and were travelling to work when the accident occurred shortly before 8am.

An inquest in Belfast heard that couple Michelle McCoy and Alan Nicholl were travelling to work and had been driving along the Church Road when they saw the vehicle Miss McStravick was driving emerging from the junction.

Miss McCoy, who was driving the Ford Focus, said: "It seemed as if she [Miss McStravick] had either pulled out and stopped, or the car had stalled. It was quite a jolt out on to the road."

Miss McCoy said she only had time to slam on the breaks before crashing into the Citroen. Miss McCoy and Mr Nicholl, who had only dropped off their children at their grandmother's minutes before the accident, got out of the car and phoned the emergency services before attempting to resuscitate Mrs Clyde and Miss McStravick.

Both women were declared dead at the scene.

Constable Caroline Dinning, from the PSNI Collision Investigation Unit, said visibility of oncoming traffic from Moneyrod Road was poor due to a hedge and a wall.

David Nicholson, scientific officer, estimated the Ford Focus was travelling at 50mph at the point of collision.

Miss McStravick's family were left stunned when pathologist Dr James Lyness said Miss McStravick had traces of cocaine in her blood at the time of her death, consumed within the previous 24 hours.

However, coroner Joe McCrisken found the drug was not a factor in her death.

Her father, Edward McStravick, said: "She was a young lady who was definitely very meticulous about her body and health and that is why it has come as a shock. She was a very caring person.

"It has obviously been a devastating blow to the family, we are never going to see her again and I am sure Mr Clyde feels exactly the same way. This is a loss that is never going to go away. The graveyard becomes a common place to visit - and I mean every day."

He added: "I have examined that place many times myself and I have indicated that it is a death-trap."

Mr McCrisken found it was likely Miss McStravick was not able to see the Ford before she moved into the junction, adding there was very little the driver of the Ford could do when Miss McStravick moved into her path. He was also satisfied Miss McCoy had not been speeding.

The coroner said he would be writing to the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) about his concerns.

He added: "This junction remains a hazard to the public."

A DfI spokesperson said a series of measures have been introduced to help improve driver awareness on the approaches to the junction. These include the provision of red warning patches and slow markings on the road surface and enhanced direction signage at the junction.

She added that the junction has also been listed for development of a capital improvement scheme that could be considered for inclusion in future works programme.

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