Car breakdown led to tragic road death

January 13, 2014

The victim of a fatal road accident near Belleek on Friday was making his way home on foot after his car had broken down, the Examiner has learned.

Neil McCooey, (58) had been on his way home from work when the accident occurred shortly before 5.30pm.  The married father-of-four was walking along the main Newtown Road between Belleek and Newtownhamilton when he was struck with a car.

News of the accident has stunned and saddened the community where Mr McCooey and his wife Rosaleen are well-known and respected, and this was reflected in the large number of mourners who have called to the family home since the tragedy.

Following a postmortem examination, Mr McCooey’s remains were returned to his family on Sunday evening.   As a mark of respect, teammates of Mr McCooey’s son, Cormac – a senior team member of Shane O’Neill’s GFC – lined the road at the club premises in Camlough, forming a guard of honour as the cortege passed by.

Police have appealed for anyone who was travelling in the area at the time of the accident, or who may have information relating to the collision, to contact the Collision Investigation Unit at Steeple Police Station or local police at Newtownhamilton Police Station by calling 0845 600 8000.

The 29-year old female driver of the car that collided with Mr McCooey was arrested on suspicion of a number of road traffic offences.  Following questioning, she was later released on police bail pending further enquiries.

SDLP MLA, Dominic Bradley, said he was saddened at the news and conveyed his sympathy to the deceased’s family.

“My thoughts are with the family of the deceased and I express my sincerest sympathy to them.  I know that the community will rally around the family and offer every support and comfort to them at this very difficult time,” he said.

Mr McCooey is the fifth person to die on Northern Ireland’s roads since the new year, the same number of fatalities as for the whole of January last year.

A senior police officer says the province is facing a ‘road safety emergency’ and said the PSNI will re-double its focus on road safety.

Supt David Moore said: “We’ve had someone dying on our roads every 48 hours in the early days of 2014.  That’s a month’s worth of carnage in a little over a week and five families torn apart.”

He said the police would re-double its focus on road safety adding: “This road safety emergency is the responsibility of everybody who enters a road way, whether on four wheels, on two wheels or on foot.

“Five deaths already is far too much and we need the collective efforts of everyone in Northern Ireland to bring this to an end now.”