2 killed, 7 injured in rally crash
FUN DAY TURNS TRAGIC: A rally in Ireland took a terrible turn on Sunday when a modified Ford Escort, perhaps similar to the one pictured, crashed into a crowd of spectators.
DUBLIN, Ireland - A race car went out of control on a rural Irish road and crashed into a crowd of about 30 spectators on Sunday, killing two and seriously injuring seven.
Witnesses said the car crashed through a fence and into the onlookers before coming to rest on its side beside a home near Bailieborough, 80km northwest of Dublin.
Police said two people - a 29-year-old woman and a 50-year-old male photographer - were declared dead at the scene. Seven others, including the car's driver and navigator, were taken to hospital with unspecified injuries.
Organisers of the Cavan Stages Rally involving about 100 cars in the border county of Cavan cancelled the event after the accident. Police and the race organizer, Motorsports Ireland, both launched investigations into what went wrong.
Police Superintendent Gerry O'Brien said it was too early to say whether a mechanical failure or driver error caused the accident. He said the car, a modified Ford Escort, "went over a hump in the road, it went midair, and when it landed it appears it lost control and drove into spectators, a group of 30-odd people."
One witness, Matthew McMahon, described the chaotic aftermath. "I heard people screaming 'Red flag, red flag, stop the stage!' Then all hell broke loose basically. There were people crying, people white as ghosts," he told Irish state radio RTE.
Stage rallying is the most popular form of road racing in Ireland. About 30 competitions are staged annually on country roads, with each racer taking their turn on the makeshift course as spectators frequently sit within a few metres of the road.
Among those killed since 2002 were two crowd stewards, a co-driver and an 18-year-old fan struck as he tried to walk across the road.