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Call for safety review of road following fatal crash between coach and car

 Muriel Wing from Dromore, Co Down was killed in the crash
Paul Ainsworth

AN MLA has renewed calls for safety improvements along a stretch of road where a 65-year-old woman was killed yesterday following a collision between a car and a coach.

The crash happened on the A1 near Hillsborough at about 8am. The woman, who was the driver of the car, has been named locally as Muriel Wing from Dromore, Co Down.

Ms Wing, a grandmother of three, was an auxiliary nurse at Craigavon Area Hospital. She had been travelling with members of her family. The driver of the coach was treated for shock while a number of passengers who sustained injuries were taken to hospital.

The incident led to the A1 being closed in both directions into yesterday evening. Ulster Unionist Lagan Valley MLA Jenny Palmer, who described the stretch of road as “dangerous”, said she had been calling for safety improvements for up to four years, particularly on a slip-road where vehicles join the A1.

Mrs Palmer said the former Department for Regional Development told her the road did not meet requirements for work to improve the junction.

However, in the wake of yesteray’s crash Mrs Palmer renewed her call in an appeal to Stormont infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard. “This is a very dangerous road, and sadly there have been many fatalities there over the years,” Ms Palmer said. “An extension to the slip road is essential, as it is too short, and vehicles often have to slow to a stop before merging.

This presents a real danger due to the sharp bend before the junction. “Myself and my husband [Lisburn and Castlereagh councillor John Palmer] have made repeated calls for this to be tackled, and each time we are told nothing needs to be done. “After hearing of this latest tragedy, I re-sent my request to the department.

Transport NI must look at this matter as a matter of urgency. Our deepest condolences go out to this deceased’s family, and we must also praise the hard work of our emergency services,” she said.

A spokeswoman for Transport NI, which has responsibility for roads, said consultation was ongoing on the second phase of a road improvement scheme, that took safety factors into consideration.

The coach involved in the crash was a daily commuter service provided by operator Rooney International. A spokesman for the firm said: “We would like to express our sorrow about these events, and our thoughts are with the family of the lady involved. The safe driving of our staff has always been paramount.”

Meanwhile, Inspector Rosie Leach, of the PSNI’s roads division, urged motorists to take care, following what was the second fatality on the north’s roads in less than 24 hours.

“My appeal to motorists is pay attention to what you are doing. Be aware of your surroundings and what other motorists are doing.”

Police have appealed to motorists who were travelling on the A1 this morning in either direction and who witnessed the collision to contact police in Lisburn or the Collison Investigation Unit on 101.

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