Northern Ireland news

Girlfriend of GAA player killed in A1 crash launches petition for road improvements

Karl Heaney, a senior player with Newry Mitchels GAC, died in a car crash on the A1 between Banbridge and Dromore in May

THE grieving girlfriend of a GAA player killed in a road crash on the A1 says similar collisions will happen "again and again" unless action is taken.

Ciara Sands (25) from Newry spoke of her devastation following her boyfriend Karl Heaney's death in a two-vehicle collision between Banbridge and Dromore.

A GAA player with Newry Mitchels, the 27-year-old from Warrenpoint had been travelling home from training when the crash happened on May 23.

His death has prompted Ms Sands and Mr Heaney's family to launch a petition calling for improvements on the route to be implemented by the Department for Infrastructure.

They said plans for the proposed development of the road were published in 2011 but have not progressed.

Almost 10,000 signatures had last night been added to the petition and Ms Sands said they hope it will send a strong message to the department that there is a "need for the road improvements to be done".

Karl Heaney and girlfriend Ciara Sands

"The horrors of the road cannot be ignored," she said.

"If the road was in the best possible shape that it could be, then maybe crashes like these wouldn't happen as much as they do.

"Hopefully we can get something to be done on the road. The department can't ignore the cry of 10,000 people, can they?

"They have already had 10 years to try and fix this dangerous road, it has to be sorted sooner rather than later."

Ms Sands, who was due to move to England with Mr Heaney where he was to begin a teaching course, believes that if the road had been "in better condition", her boyfriend's life could have been saved.

"Life changes so quickly, we had everything ahead of us and to look forward to," she said.

"I feel like if changes to the road had of been implemented earlier it could have prevented his death, it could have been avoided, he didn't deserve to die.

"But it's going to keep happening, again and again if we don't do something to stop it."

A department spokeswoman said: "Every road death is tragic and the department extends sincere sympathies to the family.

"Proposals to further improve road safety for all road users on the A1 are currently being developed.

"The department is aware of the online petition and is willing to engage with the family at any time to keep them updated with progress on the scheme."

For information on the petition, please visit the Facebook page: 'A1: How Many Must Die?'.

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