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'The stuff of nightmares': Four men in their 20s killed in Donegal car crash named

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses to come forward.

The scene in Gortahork, Donegal, where four young men have died in a road crash.
The scene in Gortahork, Donegal, where four young men have died in a road crash.
Image: Rebecca Black/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated Jan 28th 2019, 1:19 PM

THE FOUR MEN, all aged in their 20s, who died in a car crash in Co Donegal last night have been named.

They are John Harley and Shaun Harkin from Falcarragh (Fál Carragh), Mícheal Roarty from Gweedore (Gaoth Dobhair) and Daniel Scott from Gortahork (Gort an Choirce). 

Emergency services were called to the scene of the single-vehicle collision on a road near Magheraroarty, Gortahork, shortly before 9pm yesterday.

The four men, who were travelling in one car, were pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. The cause of the crash is not yet known. 

Sinn Féin councillor John Seamais Ó Fearraigh said people in the area are “devastated”.

Four young men have lost their lives, it’s a huge tragedy. It’s just devastating for all the families and all the friends as well.

“The two parishes of Gweedore and Gortahork are just totally numb this morning,” Ó Fearraigh told TheJournal.ie.

He commended emergency services for responding so promptly to the incident last night, saying: “You can’t imagine what they go through, it’s very distressing.”

‘Cloud of sadness’ 

Local TD Pearse Doherty described the crash as “devastating”. He said there is “a cloud of sadness over the area”, adding that his “thoughts and prayers are with those involved and their families”.

Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Pat ‘the Cope’ Gallagher also extended his sympathy to the relatives of the four men, and expressed sadness at their deaths.

“The whole community has been left reeling in the aftermath of this tragedy,” he said.

“It is shocking to think that four young men, with their whole lives ahead of them, have died in this horrific incident.”

These sentiments were echoed by Fr Sean Ó Gallchóir, parish priest of Gortahork, who said the local community would rally around the men’s families. 

He told RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland, he had spoken to two of the families, saying they are “totally devastated, shocked”.

One of the boys would have been very prominent player in GAA and soccer locally. All the boys would be very well-known lads and families in the community, and it stretches over three or four parishes here in the west of Donegal.

“People will rally and do their best, but for the parents it’s going to be a void all their lives,” Ó Gallchóir said. 

‘The stuff of nightmares’ 

Another local priest, Fr Brian O’Fearraigh, visited the scene of the crash last night. He told Today with Seán O’Rourke it was “the stuff of nightmares”.

I knew then that down in that valley that tragedy had struck … Two communities [are] plunged into the depths of grief and mourning by this most tragic of events.

“It’s people’s worst nightmare. We are with [the families] … going forward in the next few days will be extremely difficult,” O’Fearraigh said.

He also thanked emergency services and gardaí for their response to the tragedy, noting they “don’t seek praise” but deserve it.

Appeal for witnesses

Garda forensic collision investigators attended the crash site and the scene has been preserved for a technical examination. The local coroner has been notified, gardaí said.

“The investigation is ongoing and further updates will follow,” a statement said.

Gardaí have appealed for any witnesses to contact Milford Garda Station on 074 915 3060 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111. 

Donegal Magheraroarty in Donegal Source: Google Maps

The incident is the latest in a number of car crashes in Donegal in recent years where multiple people have died. Ten people have died on Irish roads since Thursday.

Chief Superintendent Finbarr Murphy of the Garda National Roads Policing Bureau said the force was “deeply saddened” by the death toll on Irish roads over the past week.

“I want to take this opportunity to send our condolences to all of those affected by these tragic events,” he added.

With reporting by Christine Bohan

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