Largy College, Clones, where additional supports are being made available for students today.

Dream debs turns to nightmare

TRAGEDY Teenage girls killed in car crash near Clones

What should have been one of the best nights of their young lives turned to tragedy when two young girls died and three others were injured when the car, which was bringing them to their Debs, crashed on the N54.

A tangible sense of disbelief and unfathomable grief swept across the north west Monaghan town of Clones and the Largy College community on Monday evening (July 31) and in the days since, as the tight-knit community tries to come to terms with the terrible and tragic loss.

At time of going to print this afternoon (Tuesday), the Clones to Smithborough Road at Legnakelly remained closed to traffic with Garda forensic collision investigators still at the scene conducting a technical examination.

The single vehicle involved in the accident also remained at the scene.

Two female teenagers (aged 16 and 17 years), passengers of the car, were fatally injured during the collision, which occurred at approximately 6:45pm on Monday evening.

Another female passenger (18) remains in a critical condition and receiving treatment at Cavan General Hospital.

A fourth teenager, a male (18), who is understood have family connections to Cavan, was also being treated at Cavan hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the car, a male aged 60, is also in a critical condition. He was airlifted for treatment to Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital.

The bodies of the two deceased girls, both of whom lived locally, were removed from the scene to Monaghan Hospital where post-mortem examinations were scheduled to take place yesterday (Tuesday), August 1.

The group of teenagers were on their way to Clones Town to celebrate the Largy College debs.

They were due to meet friends at the Tavern in Clones, before making their way across the Diamond to where the end-of-school celebrations were set to take place at Packie Willie’s into the early hours of the morning.

Instead, and in immediate response to the tragedy, youth support and other community groups rallied in support of the bereaved.

The Clones Youth Centre opened its doors until late on Monday night to anyone who needed support.

On Tuesday, staff and Board of Management members of Largy College Largy College met to put additional supports in place for the student body, working in close collaboration with the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS).

Largy College had remained open on Monday night for the purposes of buses returning to the school in Clones and to facilitate parents picking up students shocked by the night’s earlier events.

The school principal, as well as the chief executive and chair of Cavan-Monaghan ETB have all extended their sympathies to the families and friends of those impacted, and thanked the emergency services and gardaí for their response.

“It is with profound sadness and grief that we have learned about the devastating accident that resulted in the untimely and tragic loss of two cherished members of our school community,” said Largy principal Sharon Magennis.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have tragically lost loved ones. The other individuals involved in the accident also remain in our thoughts and prayers at this time.”

She added: “Our priority now is the wellbeing and welfare of the students, parents and staff at this difficult time. The Largy College Critical Incident Team has met to co-ordinate a response and to enact the Critical Incident Plan.

“We are grateful to the public for their deeply felt expression of support and ask that we be given the time and space to concentrate on supporting those in the school community who are most in need.”

Dr Fiona McGrath, chief executive, CMETB described it as a “sombre day” for Largy College and the entire school community. “On behalf of Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board (CMETB), I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the students involved in this accident. CMETB will provide the support and resources needed to help the school community come to terms with their loss in the days and weeks ahead.”

Cllr Carmel Brady, chairperson, said news of the tragic accident has “deeply shaken” the community. “I send our deepest sympathies to everyone impacted by this accident. Our thoughts are with the families who have lost their loved ones. We share in their grief and extend our heartfelt condolences to them at this difficult time.”

Director of Youth Work Ireland Cavan-Monaghan, Caolan Faux, meanwhile stated that his team are “deeply embedded in the community” and promised to “continue to support those affected”.

The group is contactable at 047-20096 or via Facebook by searching ‘YWICM Include Clones/Ballybay’ or by searching ‘Include_ys’ on Instagram.

Tributes to those who lost their lives are now widespread.

Cavan Monaghan TD Minister Heather Humphreys shared: “Heartbreaking news for our local community in the Clones area this evening. A night that should have been filled with joy has turned into every family’s worst nightmare. My thoughts and prayers are with all those involved.”

Sinn Féin TD Matt Carthy described the tragic news as “horrendous, heart-wrenching”.

“A moment of joy and celebration for these young people has turned into a lifetime of devastation for those who loved them. God help the families affected. The prayers of everyone in County Monaghan is with them.”