Belfast Telegraph

Two die and six injured in weekend of tragedy on the roads

By Brett Campbell

Two young men lost their lives and six others were injured in a weekend of carnage on the roads.

South Armagh man Brian Hearty died after his car slammed into a wall between Castleblayney and Dundalk in the early hours of Sunday morning.

He had just celebrated his 26th birthday the evening before.

The popular Gaelic footballer came from the village of Silverbridge, Co Armagh.

Local Sinn Fein councillor Barra O Muiri, who knew Mr Hearty, said the whole village has been stunned by what had happened.

"We are heartbroken for the Hearty family on the news of their tragic loss," the councillor said.

"He was the friendliest of lads, a talented footballer and well thought of by all."

Noel Reel, chairman of the Silverbridge Harps GAA club said the whole town and not just the club is in mourning following the death of Brian, who he described as "the soul of the party".

"He was full of fire and all the boys (in the club) wanted to be around him," he said.

"He was a talented member of the senior panel."

The GAA club offered its condolences to Mr Hearty's family on its Facebook page yesterday.

Local SDLP councillor Peter Byrne said Mr Hearty was known and loved by everyone in the town.

"He was a lively character. Very outgoing," he said.

"Everyone in the area knew him and everyone is shocked.

"I couldn't believe it when we heard.

"He was an absolute character."

It's understood that Mr Hearty - who worked in the coal/fuel business - had attended a charity event earlier in the day and is believed to have met up with friends in nearby Dundalk on Saturday night before the tragedy struck on his way home.

The Garda have appealed for anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact them.

Mr Hearty's tragic death came a day after Christopher Hillis (18) was killed when a Vauxhall Corsa he was travelling in with friends crashed on Banbridge Road, between Dromara and Killallen.

The former Rathfriland High School pupil was pronounced dead at the scene.

His funeral is set to take place today at 3rd Rathfriland Presbyterian Church at 2pm.

Four other teenagers were injured in the horror smash.

One of them was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital, where he remains in a serious condition.

Yesterday Christopher's devastated parents Andrew and Judith and younger sisters Aimee and Alyx were being comforted by Rev Seamus Burke.

"Some people get to live on this Earth until they are old, but that wasn't to be for this young man," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"He was a bright young man whose teachers saw potential in him, but he was more interested in sport, then cars, and later farming.

"It was in his DNA. His dad and grandad were farmers and he spent a lot of time there, and this was where he was really happy."

Christopher - who had been working on a local farm since leaving school - also had a passion for cars and enjoyed tinkering with them.

Police have asked anyone with information to contact officers in Lurgan or the Collision Investigation Unit on 101.

Meanwhile, last night two people were reported to have been injured in a crash in Hilltown, Co Down.

Ambulance crew treated the injured at the scene.

Belfast Telegraph

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