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Deaths of three people in Co Antrim a profound tragedy

The deaths of three people in a road traffic collision in Co Antrim yesterday is a dreadful tragedy that has caused a widespread sense of shock.

Details are still emerging but it is believed two cars were involved in the horrific crash on a road between Portglenone and Cullybackey shortly before 11am yesterday.

Emergency services launched a major response to this incident with the PSNI closing four roads in the vicinity - Lisnahunshin Road, Loan Road, Hiltonstown Road and Ballyconnelly Road.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, which despatched two emergency crews as well as a doctor to the scene, said one person was taken to hospital.

Clearly, the police will be investigating the cause of this collision and trying to determine how three people have lost their lives.

But such an awful event will serve to remind all of us of the dangers that are ever present on our roads.

This crash brings the death toll in Northern Ireland so far this year to 36, which is higher than the same timescale over the past two years.

By the end of July last year, 31 people had been killed on our roads while the figure for the same period in 2018 was 28.

What is particularly concerning is that we have seen an increase in deaths compared to previous years given that for a considerable part of 2020 the lockdown has been in place.

For weeks before the easing of restrictions, traffic levels were much lighter as people observed the stay at home order and travel generally was greatly reduced.

So it must be regarded as worrying that we have not seen a corresponding reduction in fatalities during and after the lockdown.

Each death is an indescribable loss for their loved ones and every tragic crash serves to underline the vital message about road safety.

It is profoundly sad and deeply distressing that three people died so suddenly and unexpectedly on a country road in Co Antrim yesterday.

The thoughts of the wider community will be with their family and friends, who have received the most devastating news.

They will need all possible support in the days and weeks ahead.

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