By David Hennessy
Police officers investigating the road collisions at the Jim Clark Rally in Scotland on Saturday May 31 are appealing for witnesses to come forward.
Three people were killed when Irish driver and co-driver David Carney and Ray Fitzpatrick lost control of their car and stuck bystanders.
The dead were named as Iain Provan, 64, and Elizabeth Allan, 63, who are from the same family, and 71-year-old Leonard Stern. They died at the scene. Another relative of Mr Povan and Ms Allan was in a stable condition in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
The incident has raised massive concerns over safety measures at the event and police investigating the deaths will be asking why the event was not called off after an earlier accident, that happened two hours earlier, had left spectators injured with a 61-year-old left in a critical but stable condition also at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary when another rally car smashed into five spectators – one woman and four men – near Crosshall Farm on the Eccles stage of the competition. Another two men were treated for minor injuries after this collision.
There have also been reports of spectators not staying a safe distance from the race and even standing in front of speeding cars to take photos.
Police are particularly interested to speak to anyone who may have video footage or photographs of the rally and which may have captured the collisions.
Detective Superintendent Kenneth Graham, who is leading the investigation, said: “We would ask that anyone who has any video footage or photographs, or has any other information that may help with our investigation, to contact police immediately on 101.”
The race car lost control after speeding over a humpback bridge and then veered off road, striking the spectators.
Although unhurt, 26-year-old driver David Carney, who is from Westport in Co Mayo, or his 43-year-old navigator Ray Fitzpatrick from Cahir in Tipperary were said to be traumatised by the incident.
It is understood that, in such circumstances, rally drivers are unlikely to face prosecution because road traffic laws are suspended so they can ignore the speed limit.
A talented and experienced driver, David Carney was nominated last year for the prestigious Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Young Rally Driver Award.
In a statement, the rally organisers offered their “heartfelt condolences and sympathy” to all those affected. It said: “Our thoughts are especially with those who have lost family members and to the families of the injured spectators.
“All members of the organising team are in shock and are co-operating fully with Police Scotland to establish the facts.”
About 250 competitors had been taking part in the event, with thousands of spectators watching the action.
The event is the only all-Tarmac event to be held on closed-off public roads on mainland UK. The cars often exceed 100mph.
The race is held in honour of the late Formula One champion Jim Clark, who was killed in an accident in Hockenheim in Germany in 1968.