By Anne Lucey
Two American tourists who were travelling on a jaunting car have died following a freak accident at one of Co Kerry's most popular visitor attractions.
The accident happened at the Gap of Dunloe at around 1.40pm today near a bridge around two miles from the Kate Kearney's side of the pass.
The two people, a man and a woman in their 60s, died after their trap went off the road. It has been reported that were on holiday from Phoenix, Arizona with their family. It is understood the trap overturned and they fell down onto rocks off the narrow pathway.
Locals say that the vehicle may have struck the parapet of a bridge and overturned.
The couple were pronounced dead at the scene and their bodies removed to University Hospital Kerry in Tralee. The driver, a local man from Kilgarvan, was also taken to Tralee Hospital but was not seriously injured and has since been released.
The horse was put down at the scene.
The jaunting car is a traditional way to sight-see through the scenic narrow pass in the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks near Killarney.
Gardaí have closed the road near the location of the accident and Kerry Mountain Rescue are at the scene.
Mayor of Killarney Niall Kelleher said the tragedy had left a dark cloud over the community.
"On behalf of the people of Killarney, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the family and friends of the two people who lost their lives in such tragic circumstance in the Gap of Dunloe this afternoon," he said.
"The tragic incident has caused great shock and upset throughout the entire community.
The Killarney Chamber of Tourism and Commerce also expressed sympathies.
Chamber president Paul O'Neill said: "We are all shocked and saddened by this most tragic accident.
Irish Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin offered his condolences to the families of the tourists who died.
"It is deeply upsetting to hear the news of the tragic accident that has claimed the lives of two tourists on holiday in Kerry," he said.
"Everyone in Kerry is truly shocked and saddened. I want to offer my sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims at this most distressing time."
Almost a year ago, in May of 2016, an American tourist, a cyclist lost her life in a cycling accident in the Gap.
Gardaí wish to appeal for witnesses to contact Killarney Garda Station on 064 6671160, the Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any garda station.
- Digital Desk