‘It’s very tragic to see such a young life gone’ – Driver who died in two car crash at Clare rally named

Mr Fleming, a native of Kilcummin, Co Kerry died in the serious two-car collision during the fourth stage of the Clare Stages Rally at about 1.30pm.

The driver of the car in which he was competing was uninjured.

The driver of a second car involved in the incident was transferred to Limerick University Hospital where he is in a stable condition and his injuries are not believed to be life threatening.

The event was immediately halted while emergency services were alerted and mobilised to the scene.

National Ambulance Service paramedics responded to the incident while the Emergency Aeromedical Service air ambulance, Aeromed-01, based in Cork and operated by the HSE, was also requested to attend.

In the meantime, the event’s own emergency crews responded to the incident.

Motorsport Ireland will now conduct a full investigation to establish how the accident occurred.

The event was taking place on public roads that had been closed to traffic for the event.

In a statement, Motorsport Ireland extended its sympathies to the family of Mr Fleming who they said was a “highly experience co-driver whom had competed in over 150 events since 2006”.

“The thoughts of everyone at Motorsport Ireland and within the wider motorsport community are with the Fleming family, Clare Motor Club and the members of the motorsport community who were present at the scene who reacted so quickly and professionally to the incident.

“Motorsport Ireland will conduct a full investigation with the relevant authorities into today’s events to establish how this accident occurred,” the statement said.

Mr Fleming’s brother Mark Fleming paid tribute to the sportsman online, stating: “Rest in peace Damian. You loved rallying. All you wanted was to be in a rally car. We will miss you everyday.”

Mr Fleming was remembered for winning the Kerry Winter Rally in 2015 and photographs of the co driver’s time rallying were shared by loved ones on social media.

Councillor Martin Grady, from Killarney, Co Kerry, said Mr Fleming “was well known in Kerry. He had a great interest in motorsport from a young age. I’m a fan of the sport and I can say it’s a really sad day for our local community and for motorsport.

“It’s very tragic to see such a young life gone. Damian was a very skilled and very experienced rally driver. He’d been involved in the Killarney Motor Club.

“He was a co-driver and was well known for it. He’d been driving for years and was classed as very skilled.”

Mr Fleming also ran an e-bikes business and he was also a plumber. The sportsman had lived in Dublin for some time but he’d been believed to have moved back to his native Kerry in recent times.

Mr Fleming was known to be a driver who was always on hand to help others during motorsport events.

Killarney and District Motor Club said members are “heavy hearted that our club member, Damian Fleming, was fatally injured during a tragic motor sport accident while competing in the Clare Stages Rally earlier this afternoon”.

A spokesperson for the club told the Irish Independent: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Damian’s family and friends at this very sad and difficult time.

“Our thoughts also go out to the competitors who were on the scene, the medical and emergency personnel that attended the incident along with members of Clare Motor Club.

“We wish a speedy recovery to the competitor who was hospitalised as a result of this incident. We would appeal to members of the public not to share any footage of this tragic accident online.”

A garda spokesperson said: “Gardaí and emergency services attended the scene of a fatal collision involving two vehicles, that occurred earlier this afternoon Sunday, 24th September 2023 at approximately 1:30pm.

“A passenger of one vehicle, a male in his 30s, was fatally injured and pronounced deceased at scene. His body has been removed from the scene to University Hospital Limerick where a post mortem will take place in due course.

“The male driver (age unknown) of the second vehicle was conveyed to University Hospital Limerick for treatment for injuries believed to be non-life-threatening. The second driver and passenger, both males were uninjured.

“The road is currently closed and scene of the collision is preserved for examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators. Traffic diversions are in place.

“Anyone with any information is asked to contact Ennis Garda Station on 065 684 8100, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.”

Emergency services, including the air ambulance, attended the scene.

Organisers Clare Motor Club said it confirmed an incident had taken place on stage four of the rally.

“The relevant authorities were immediately advised of the incident and emergency services are in attendance at the scene. The event has been halted and a further statement will be issued in due course,” the club said.

The collision took place at an area called Glencolumbkille near Carron.

The road remains closed and it is expected a garda collision investigation will take place. Local diversions are in place in the area.

More to follow…

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