Belfast Telegraph

Tragedy as man (70) dies after being hit by stolen car following funeral in west Belfast

Emergency services at the Whiterock road in West Belfast.
Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Emergency services at the Whiterock road in West Belfast. Mandatory Credit : Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Police have said two men have been injured. Credit: BBC
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

A man has died after being hit by a stolen car after attending a funeral in west Belfast on Saturday.

The crash happened at around midday on the Whiterock Road.

The deceased has been named as 70-year-old Seamus Conlon.

Chief Inspector Gary Reid said: "Three men were struck by a stolen Vauxhall Vectra outside the city cemetery just after midday.

"Seventy-year-old Seamus Conlon has sadly passed away and two other men are still being treated in hospital. Their conditions are described as serious."

A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including causing death by dangerous driving and driving when unfit.

He remains in custody at present.

It is understood there were earlier reports of a vehicle being driving erratically in west Belfast on Saturday morning.

Sinn Fein councillor Michael Donnelly was at the scene shortly after the incident.

"I got a call at around 12pm to say that there had been a terrible traffic incident," he said.

"I'm from the community and went to the scene straight away and it was pure carnage and panic.

"There was a lot of people angry and upset. The PSNI, fire service and ambulance were all there and working frantically on the injured people.

"This is a very serious incident. Three people from our community and from well respected families have been caught up in this.

"There is real sadness and anger in our community.

"We need to make sure that anyone who witnessed it report it to whoever they feel comfortable with. I'm making myself available.

"The important thing is to come forward and make sure the person involved is brought to book. We don't want to see the person responsible for this back on our streets.

"It's a double tragedy - people were paying their respects to another well-known member of the community who had died and as they were leaving that funeral to go home they were caught up in this carnage."

The incident happened on the Whiterock Road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Picture By: Arthur Allison: Pacemaker

A witness, who did not want to be named, said the crash sounded like a bomb exploding.

"I was walking out of the graveyard when I heard a massive bang and saw all the smoke in the air and then saw a car had crashed into the van," he added.

"The funeral had just ended when it happened and we were walking up to the bar.

"It was really busy at the time.

"The police got there about 30 seconds later and the medics arrived shortly after that and started working on the man who was badly injured.

"The man who was injured was part of the funeral and he had been talking to someone who was in the van when he was hit."

Father Patrick McCafferty was leaving the funeral when the collision took place.

He told the BBC: "People were standing around in shock, people are stunned.

"They're bewildered something like this could happen, just literally after the funeral had been completed. It's unbelievable."

Alliance west Belfast representative Donnamarie Higgins said: "The local community is simply in shock. This was a day when West Belfast was showing its best side off to the world due to Féile and instead we are now mourning following this tragedy. It is particularly devastating, given it was immediately after a funeral.

“If anyone has any information on this incident, I urge them to contact police with it immediately.”

A Northern Ireland Ambulance Service spokesman said that three people had taken to Royal Victoria Hospital.

A HART team and the air ambulance attended the scene.

Police have asked motorists to avoid the area as the road remains closed.

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