Belfast Telegraph

Pregnant rally fan killed: Double tragedy as competing car ploughs into spectators

By Edel O'Connell and Sarah Stack

A motorsports fan who died when a rally car ploughed into the crowd at a road race is believed to have been expecting her first child.

Caroline Cleary and sports photographer Joe Lane died while watching a rally in which her partner Sean Hayde was a competitor. It is believed the couple were expecting their first child together.

She had recently moved to Cork from Wexford.

The 29-year-old was herself a talented rally car navigator and had been involved in motorsports for about 12 years.

Gary Nolan, of Wexford Motor Club, described her as an “extremely happy and bubbly woman who was very passionate about motorsports”.

“She was always smiling. She had such a bubbly personality, a very chirpy persona. Her family in Wexford are deeply shocked by this tragedy,” he said.

Father-of-two Mr Lane (50), was one of the most respected motorsports photographers in Ireland. From Kilcogan, Co Galway, he had been pursuing his passion for more than 30 years.

Two separate inquiries are under way after the car plunged into a group of 30 spectators at around 11.10am at Monaghanoose, near Bailieboro.

Garda Superintendent Gerry O'Brien said a rally car went over a hump in the road and lost control as it landed.

“It drove into a group of spectators,” he said. “We understand that the group accounted for about 30-odd people.

“Of those, unfortunately and regrettably, two died at the scene and another five were brought to Cavan General Hospital.”

The extent of the injuries suffered by the spectators, driver and co-driver is not known.

Eyewitness Matthew McMahon said he saw the car crest the road before he heard it skid.

“I don't know if something broke on the car or if he just lost control,” he told RTE. “Then I just heard people screaming and people shouting ‘red flag, red flag, stop the stage'.

“Then all hell broke loose basically with people crying, people white as ghosts as if something serious had happened.

“And then someone mentioned ‘somebody's been killed' and we found out how serious it was.”

The car is being examined by collision investigators and the road remains closed to traffic.

Cavan Motor Club, which staged the event, said the accident happened on stage one of the special stages rally.

“At this time all our energy is focused on the families of those involved in this tragic accident,” it said in a statement.

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