Former nun killed in Glenshane crash was 'the kindest of people'

Loreto Douglas (64) from Derry died following a road crash on the Glenshane Pass outside Dungiven
Gareth McKeown

A former nun who died after a crash on the Glenshane Pass was last night described as "the kindest of people".

Derry woman Loreto Douglas (64) had been travelling to a funeral in Newtownards on Wednesday morning when she was injured in a three-vehicle collision.

It is believed her car was initially involved in a minor collision with a van close to the Ponderosa bar, before a second collision took place involving another van.

Ms Douglas was airlifted to hospital, where she later died.

Her passenger, work colleague Emma Doherty, was transferred to the Royal Victoria Hospital where her injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.

Three men were also taken to Altnagelvin Hospital following the crash, but two have since been discharged. The third, who suffered serious leg injuries, was said to be in a stable condition.

A former member of the Sisters of Mercy Order in Derry, Ms Douglas lived in the Culmore area and was a founding member of family support charity Lifestart Foundation, where she had worked since 1986.

Executive director Dr Pauline McClenaghan said staff were "in pieces" after the death of a colleague "who cared for everyone".

"She could turn her hand to everything and did daily, undertaking tasks well beyond those in her job description. Whatever needed to be done, Loreto was there, willing and able to do it," she said.

"Loreto was also the most generous, personable and kindest of people. She made friends with everyone she met and was much loved and respected by all who knew her. She had a big personality and a strong presence. She will leave a huge hole in Lifestart and in all our minds and hearts."

A man and woman remain in hospital following the crash. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan also described Ms Douglas as a "lovely lady who dedicated her life to helping others".

"I suppose it just shows the fragility of human life and the dangers that do exist on our roads and the need for us to be more careful," he said.

A host of tributes were also paid online, with friends describing Loreto as a woman who "always had time for everyone".

Another said: "A kinder, more gentle soul you could never meet".

Ms Douglas is survived by her brother John in Ballina.

Police have appealed to anyone who witnessed the crash, at around 9.15am on Wednesday, to contact them.

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