Young two-vehicle crash victim ‘critical’

A 22-year-old woman remains in a critical condition in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast following a two-vehicle crash in Gilford, Co Down, on Saturday night.

The crash happened at 8.50pm at a notorious blackspot where there is a bad bend on the Banbridge Road.

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Trust yesterday said the young woman was “critically ill in intensive care”.

The road reopened after 2pm yesterday and police appealed for witnesses to the collision to contact them.

Four accidents have taken place at the same spot in the last two weeks – and according to local residents another 16 accidents happened earlier in the year.

Niall McCartan, 39, who has lived opposite the crash scene for 10 years and was not commenting on the specifics of the crash, said: “It seems that people do not predict the bend and are going too fast.

“The speed limit there is 60mph and you cannot take that bend at 60mph, so even if you are not speeding, it is still too fast for that stretch of road.

“The speed limit needs to be reduced to 40mph straight away. There needs to be proper signage about the sharp bend.

“And in the long run the road needs to be straightened out. Local residents have told Roads Service this for some time.”

Mr McCartan added that the drivers involved in accidents at the blackspot are “a total mixture of people of all ages and not just boy racers”.

In recent weeks the chief executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, Roisin Foster, 57, was injured at the blackspot.

UUP councillor for Banbridge John Hanna said: “There has been a phenomenal amount of accidents on that stretch of the road.”

Again not commenting on Saturday’s crash, Mr Hanna added that he believed some of the crashes happen when “people do not realise the speed they are doing and how bad the bends are on the road”.

“I raised the issue about the safety of that area of the road at the council last Monday night because it is a main route with a huge volume of traffic.

“It is not suitable for the amount of traffic it is now carrying.

“There needs to be flashing speed signs and the damaged crash barrier needs to be replaced in the area as soon as possible.”

A DRD spokesman last night said a number of safety measures will be in place at the accident blackspot in early 2014.

Responding to concerns from Banbridge Road residents, the spokesman said: “We understand that PSNI are investigating a number of collisions on this road in recent weeks.

“Roads Service will be erecting new bend warning and chevron signs with ‘SLOW’ road markings. Marker posts will also be erected to help define the edge of carriageway. Work to repair the vehicle restraint at this location has also been ordered and has been added to our contractors works programme to be carried out early in 2014.”

The spokesman added that DRD Minister Danny Kennedy “has asked that all of this work is carried out as a matter of urgency”.

“Roads Service will also continue to assess the location in conjunction with the PSNI to determine if there are any further measures that can be considered which will improve road safety in this area,” he added.