Three young men killed in a horror car crash near the Halfway Road between Banbridge and Dromore on Sunday were named locally as friends Peter Hughes, Gavin Sloan and Conall Havern.
The crash happened when two cars collided on the A1 dual carriageway at around 5.40pm. The three men, two aged 20 and one aged 19, were travelling in a red Vauxhall Corsa. They were from outside the Banbridge area.
Their car was involved in a collision with a black Volkswagen Tiguan on the northbound carriageway. A woman travelling in the second car was taken to hospital for treatment for her injuries.
One of those killed, Peter Hughes, a Dromintee man, was described on a Queen’s University GAA tweet as a ‘big hearted’ Gaelic player.
It stated, “Devastated at the passing of fresher footballer and Dromintee man Peter Hughes (number 5).
“It is with great sadness that we learned of sudden death along with two friends of our fresher footballer and friend Peter Hughes.
“A great character and a footballer with a big heart, the club and his team mates will miss him badly.”
Dromintee GAA also posted on its Facebook page, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hughes and Murphy family on the sad loss of Peter, our senior/junior player. All training and games have been postponed until further notice, a fine young Gael has
left us, to his parents Paul and Sharon, sister Jennifer, brothers Kevin and Ryan our deepest sympathies xxx.”
A friend of Conall’s posted that he was ‘hugely popular and much-loved.’
Another added: “Still in shock - RIP Conall. I’m proud to be able to say that I knew such a nice person like yourself always happy and smiling, thoughts and prayers are with your family.”
Gavin, was a past pupil of St Louis Grammar School in Kilkeel, Co Down.
It is believed the pals were all students at Queen’s University and were due to start back in the coming weeks.
The recent deaths, brings to seven people killed on the A1 in the past year. A cyclist was killed last November, two nuns were killed on the Derrycraw Road junction and a 55-year-old was killed on the Halfway Road, in March.
It is still not known the cause of the accident. It is believed one of the cars crossed the central reservation and police are looking into if weather was a factor.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Martin, described on Twitter on Sunday afternoon weather conditions as being ‘truly awful.’
The A1 was closed in both directions between Banbridge and Dromore, creating long tailbacks on Sunday. It was opened again on Monday morning.
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, said while it was still unknown how the accident occurred but the recent deaths showed a real need for more road safety on the A1. He said there was a programme to upgrade and make the dual carriageway safer, and the deaths highlighted the need for this work to be escalated.
Local MLA Stephen Moutray, too said that he contacted the Minister of Regional Development, Danny Kennedy about improving road safety and has already written to the Chair of the Committee.
“This is horrific news for the entire community,” he said. “It is imperative that the Minster acts with his officials to improve the safety on this road.
“Three young lives that had so much to live for cut off in their prime. I would encourage everyone to take care on our roads as they travel them day and daily.”
The crash brought to 46 the number of people killed on Northern Ireland’s roads so far this year.