A LOCAL woman has said she is “lucky to be alive” after an accident on the A1 at the weekend.
28-year-old Karen Sweeney, who manages the Yellow Door in Lisburn, was travelling to work at 7.45am on Saturday (November 24) when she apparently hit ice close to the Dromore exit on the northbound side of the carriageway and lost control of her car.
“I was driving along the road and I hit ice,” explained Karen. “I slid across to the other side of the road and I couldn’t regain control.
“Another woman hit the same patch of ice and also lost control of her car and whilst I was in the ambulance, a third car hit the ice and ended up in a ditch.”
Paramedics told Karen if she had been in a smaller car she would have been killed, after the driver's side of her vehicle was smashed by a tree.
In the accident Karen’s car struck a bus stop at the side of the carriageway and she said she “shudders” to think of what could have happened if there had been anyone at the bus stop at the time.
Police, who had issued a warning to motorists on Saturday morning, advising them of icy road conditions in the area, are currently investigating the series of accidents and are examining the condition of the A1 at the time of the accidents. “Police are currently investigating the circumstances of the collision and the condition of the road surface will form part of their enquiries,” said a police spokesperson.
Karen claimed the lack of grit on the road could have been the cause of the accidents. Roads Service have said the responsibility for gritting that section of the A1 fell with Newry company Amey Lagan Roads.
A spokesperson for Roads Service said: “The A1 Carriageway between Lisburn and Dromore is maintained on behalf of the Department for Regional Development (DRD) by Amey Lagan Roads Ltd (ALR) (as part of the Design, Build, Finance and Operate (DBFO) Package 2 Contract). Under the contract responsibilities for winter service rests with ALR.
“ALR has informed DRD that the section of A1 between Lisburn and Dromore was gritted around 8pm on Friday evening, 23 November, in both directions. ALR also inspected the road during the early hours of Saturday morning but found no need to carry out further gritting at the location.”
Karen is currently off work and is finding it difficult to come to terms with the accident. “It was absolutely terrifying,” she said. “I am finding it hard to sleep and all I can think about is the accident.”
This was one of a number of accidents in the Lisburn area on Saturday morning. Police had issued a warning to motorists to be wary of the icy conditions on local roads. Despite the warning there were at least nine accidents in the Lagan Valley area on Saturday. However, all the accidents were minor in nature.
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson witnessed the accident on Saturday morning and said he would be pressing the Roads Minister to ensure that main roads, such as the A1 were regularly gritted during inclement weather.
“I was on the A1 on Saturday morning and witnessed one of the vehicles that had left the road,” said Mr Donaldson. “It was evident to me that the road surface was in quite a precarious condition with ice.
“It is absolutely essential that a main road like the A1 is continuously maintained so that when temperatures drop to a certain limit, grit is applied so that we avoid this kind of situation during the winter months,” he concluded.