Tributes paid to spectators killed at Cavan Stages Rally

Tributes paid to spectators killed at Cavan Stages Rally

Two spectators killed when a rally car ploughed into a crowd both died watching a sport of their passion, their clubs have said.

Tributes have been paid to female rally co-driver Caroline Cleary and photographer Joe Lane, who died when a Ford Escort lost control at a race in Co Cavan yesterday.

Five other spectators and the Escort's driver and co-driver remain in hospital.

Ms Cleary, 30, an experienced navigator and co-driver with Wexford Motor Club, was watching boyfriend Sean Hayde take part in the Cavan Stages Rally as the tragedy unfolded.

Pat O'Dowd, of Wexford Motor Club, said the sport was Ms Cleary's life.

"It's a sad sad day for everyone. Caroline always had a smile on her face and was always happy to help," he said. "From the time she could get out and about she was, as a spectator, a club member, a co-driver. Motor sport was her life."

The Wexford woman, who is believed to have been pregnant, recently moved to Cork to be with her partner.

"Everyone in the club and community are in total shock by the tragedy," Mr O'Dowd added. "Our deepest sympathies are with Caroline's entire family, her friends and the family of Joe Lane."

Mr Lane, 50, from Kilgoggin, Co Galway, was a part-time motor sports photographer and a regular contributor to publications.

Mark Parsons, of Galway Motor Club, said it was with great sadness the club learned of the tragic passing of their friend and past member, who was married to Martina and had two children, Graham and Shona.

"Joe passed away doing what he loved, taking photographs of rally cars in action," he said. "He travelled the length and breadth of the country following his passion for rallying. Our thoughts are now with his family and with the family of Caroline Cleary who also died in this tragic accident."

Gardaí and Motorsport Ireland, which governs the sport, have launched separate investigations into the accident which happened at Monaghanoose, a townland about a mile outside Bailieboro in Co Cavan, yesterday morning.

The tragedy also follows others which have devastated the sport in recent years.

Teenage rally fan Richard O'Donnell, from Strabane, was killed as he tried to cross a country road during the Donegal International Rally in 2008.

The 18-year-old was struck by a competing Ford Fiesta on the 11th stage of the competition, which is one of the biggest sporting events in the country.

Two years ago co-driver Thomas Maguire died in a crash in the Donegal rally, and in 2002 two stewards were also killed in the event.

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