Aoife Downey

FIVE families have been plunged into tragedy just days before Christmas following separate accidents in Cork city, Co Louth and Dublin.

Fifteen-year-old Aoife Downey lost her life following a freak accident in the snow when the homemade sleigh she was travelling on struck a tree. She was playing with three friends on a makeshift plastic sleigh on Frankfield Golf Club near Douglas in Cork's south city. It is understood the sleigh travelled down a steep hill at speed before it struck a tree.

Downey, who was a member of Douglas Camogie Club, is believed to have suffered head injuries on impact and died in Cork University Hospital yesterday afternoon. A teenage boy and a teenage girl who were also on the sleigh were in a serious condition at the hospital last night while another boy was in a stable condition.

A 35 year-old woman and her ten year-old son died at around 2.30pm yesterday when their car crashed into a wall at Cangy, Dunleer, Co Louth. The child's father was driving and lost control of the vehicle.

The couple's four year-old daughter was also in the car and was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda where she is in a stable condition. An 11 year-old girl is also in a critical condition.

In Dublin, a man died after being hit by a car on the N11 at White's Cross in Blackrock. The 36-year-old was rushed to St Vincent's Hospital in the early hours of yesterday, where he died.

In a separate accident, a man and a mother-of-two died after a tragic accident on the Grand Canal.