Two women are recovering in hospital after they lost control of their vehicles following a heavy downpour of hailstone on the M18 motorway in Co Clare yesterday.
Emergency services responded to four separate incidents on the same stretch of the southbound carriageway about two kilometres north of Crusheen.
In the first collision, reported at around 9.30am, a van spun of out control, ploughed into an embankment before overturning and leaving the lone occupant trapped inside.
The vehicle came to a stop on the grass verge and facing in the opposite direction.
Moments later, a car smashed into a barrier just a few hundreds metres away and the same stretch of the route. The driver was lucky to have escaped relatively unscathed after her struck a section of barrier designed to buckle and an absorb the energy from a collision.
Seconds later another car spun out of control and left the motorway just metres away. Another lost control on the other side of the motorway but the occupants were not hurt.
Gardaí, fire services and ambulance crews responded to the scene from Ennis but had to drive past the collisions and another 16 kilometres to Gort in Co Galway to gain access to the southbound lanes before driving another 16 kilometres south to reach the scenes.
On arrival at the first collision, paramedics confirmed to fire personnel that there were no casualties trapped or seriously injured. One woman was taken to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) for treatment. The driver of the second vehicle escaped injury but was treated for shock.
Fire and rescue vehicles then rushed to the more serious incident involving the van a short distance further south. The driver sustained suspected multiple broke ribs and other injuries and was also taken to UHL for treatment.
As temperatures hovered just about freezing and with road still in a dangerous condition it was decided that the 16 km long northbound section of motorway be closed in an effort to prevent further accidents.
The closure also allowed an ambulance access to the scene without having to undertake a 32 kilometres roundtrip via Gort.
Fire crews in Gort have expressed anger and concern that they weren’t first sent to the incident. By the time Gort fire brigade was alerted, colleagues from Ennis had already arrived at the scene and so they were stood down before they even left their station.
On December 19th last year, a motorist was pulled from his burning car after it collided with a taxi following a heavy downpour of hailstone.
The collision happened on the same stretch of the M18 in the northbound lanes while emergency service responded to a total of 12 collisions on the M18 in just a few hours.
The taxi driver and one of his passengers were treated in hospital for their injuries.