Four dead in less than 12 hours as Portugal’s ‘Christmas road safety’ campaign begins

“Operation Christmas” begins in “worst possible way”

Three men and one woman lost their lives in violent accidents this weekend as the PSP and GNR police forces’ ‘Christmas road safety’ campaign got underway.

Tabloid reports say the first fatal accident came on Friday evening, on the IP2 near Portalegre.

“Manuel Fontainhas, 84, was one of the fatalities – a well known local figure, who had been a local parish council president, as well as leading a Misericórdia charity institution”, writes Correio da Manhã.

Mr Fontainhas’ 76-year-old wife is “fighting for her life in hospital”, intubated and with ‘serious injuries’, while a 29-year-old handicrafts entrepreneur, named as Nicole Garcia, was the other fatality.

Only half an hour later, near Almeirim, a 22-year-old motorcyclist came off his bike in a violent crash that killed him. João Reguinga was a “very well known and admired young man” in his hometown of Fazendas de Almeirim. He was also apparently a motocross enthusiast.

A few hours later, early on Saturday morning, another young driver (Gonçalo Dias Batista, 25) came off the road in Montargil, crashing into a tree. The impact killed him.

If these tragedies were ‘exceptional’ it would make them no less awful – but this year, up till December 11 (ie not including the recent four this weekend), 442 people have died in similar accidents on Portugal’s roads – hence the constant entreaties by authorities for drivers to ‘take care’, ignore their mobile phones/ reduce speeds/ refrain from taking to the road after drinking alcohol/ consuming drugs.

Extra police will be in evidence alongside main thoroughfares up until January 2 – the idea being to try and help cut down on the terrible loss of precious lives on the nation’s roads. ND

Source material: Correio da Manhã