Appeal over hit-and-run

December 22, 2009

by Brónagh Murphy

The husband of a woman who was seriously injured in a hit and run collision in Mullaghbawn last weekend has made an impassioned plea to the driver of the car to turn himself in.  

Aidan Strain says his family is devastated by the consequences of the accident that has left both his wife, Leontia, and his employee, Declan Gartland, in hospital recovering from horrific injuries.  He is appealing to the driver, or the young girl believed to have been a passenger in the vehicle, to look into their conscience and do the right thing.  He is also appealing to the wider community to come forward with information – no matter how insignificant they may think it is – in a bid to identify the driver.

It was in the early hours of Sunday morning, December 13th, as the staff of Aidan Strain’s Electrical business were returning home from their Christmas party night out, that the incident occurred.  Leontia and Declan had just emerged from a taxi outside the Strain family home on the Maphoner Road, when a speeding car ploughed into them.  The impact tossed Declan in the air, resulting in a broken arm and leg, as well as superficial injuries.  Leontia, however, was carried on the bonnet of the car before being tossed off into the ditch some 120 metres further up the road.  The driver paused momentarily before speeding off in the direction of Mullaghbawn village leaving his victim lying horrifically injured.

Describing the moment, Mr Strain said: “My two daughters caught a glimpse of the car coming at high speed. Gillian was screaming that the car was coming too fast and Lynda waved at it to try to get it to stop, but he [the driver] never slacked the car, she had to jump out of the way.

“The whole incident was over in seconds. Declan was thrown up in the air and Leontia was carried on up the road on the bonnet. She was carried for about 120 metres, the driver then stood on the brakes and flung Leontia off the car sending her sliding another 20 metres along the road like a rag doll. The driver stopped momentarily and then drove off at high speed towards the village.”

The rest of the group was not immediately aware that Leontia had been dragged so far up the road and it was some minutes before she was discovered, lying injured and moaning on the verge. Neighbours were quickly on hand, providing blankets until the ambulance arrived.  She was so badly injured that paramedics treated her for more than an hour to stabilise her condition before she was taken by ambulance to Daisy Hill Hospital.

Later that day, Leontia underwent four hours of emergency surgery to have staples inserted in a severe head wound. She also suffered multiple cuts and friction burns and a fractured knee.

Following his initial treatment in Daisy Hill hospital, Declan Gartland, who works as a purchasing manager for Aidan Strain Electrical Engineering (ASEE), was later moved to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment for breaks to his leg, arm and wrist.


Witnesses to the accident have confirmed that there was considerable pedestrian and vehicular activity in the village at that time – around 3:30am – and the family hope that some of those people may recollect something which might assist in identifying the driver.

“The young girl that was in the car, she’s bound to be hurting, even if the driver isn’t,” he said.

“If people notice recent damage to someone’s car or if parents notice their son or daughter acting strangely and believe it could be connected, please pass that on.”

It’s believed the offending vehicle is a light coloured medium sized car, possibly a Toyota.

There are a number of points Mr Strain is asking the public to examine:

Did you see anything unusual in the Maphoner Road or Mullaghbawn area around 3:30am on Sunday morning?

Have you seen a damaged car abandoned anywhere?

Is someone in your family concerned about damage to their car?

If you own or work in a car repair business, have you been asked to repair frontal damage to a light coloured car?

Have you heard anyone say anything which might relate to the whereabouts of the car or its driver?


While understandably anxious to find out who was responsible for this accident, Mr Strain is eternally thankful that the injuries sustained by his wife and Mr Gartland are no longer life-threatening and that full recovery is likely.  He says the family has received countless messages of sympathy and support since the accident, for which they are greatly appreciative.

“My best Christmas box will be getting Leontia home from hospital and seeing Declan back with his family. However we need to know who was behind this and have them taken off our roads,” he said.

“We are extremely lucky not to have been dealing with fatalities here, as other families have had to deal with in recent times, and one of my main concerns now is to do what I can to ensure that this type of cavalier driving doesn’t continue in Mullaghbawn.”

A police investigation into the incident is ongoing and they have appealed for anyone with information to contact them at Newry 0845 600 8000.