Belfast Telegraph

Tragic coincidence as Joey Dunlop mechanic critical after crash

By Lisa Smyth

A former mechanic for the late Joey Dunlop was involved in a near-fatal crash at the same time as the devastating smash that claimed the life of road racer William Dunlop, it has emerged.

Ballymoney man Sam Graham, aged in his 50s, was left fighting for his life in the Royal Victoria Hospital after the motorbike he was riding was involved in a collision in Co Antrim at 5pm on Saturday.

At the same time, 32-year-old William Dunlop was killed in a horror accident as he took part in practice for the Skerries 100 road races in Co Dublin.

Mr Graham was rushed to Northern Ireland's regional trauma unit by the air ambulance.

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust last night described his condition as "critical".

He is a well-known figure in the world of road racing, having worked as a mechanic for Joey Dunlop during his golden years.

He took part in a BBC programme paying tribute to Joey after his death, in which he recalled a discussion he had with the sporting legend about the possibility of him retiring.

Mr Graham said he believed Joey would have soon stepped down had he not been killed while contesting a non-title international event on the outskirts of Tallinn in Estonia in 2000.

"I think he would have retired - him and me discussed it just before he went to Estonia, in the bar, he said he would go and make up his mind when he went to Tallinn," he explained.

"Joey decided he would enter two races, Skerries and Estonia, but he had to cancel one because it was against regulations.

"He said he would go to Estonia because they were paying his diesel and petrol and it would give him a chance to be on his own and think about retirement and what he was doing."

Mr Graham, a successful bodybuilder who owns a gym in Ballymoney, is also known for his love of big cats, having offered refuge to a number of tigers in the back garden of his home over the years.

Belfast Telegraph

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