Road horrors blight New Year festivities

Even before the country clocks off for another three-day jamboree of New Year jollity, road horrors have claimed the lives of people up and down the country.

In Lisbon yesterday, a 53-year-old woman was killed after her car broke down on the exit from Vasco da Gama bridge.

Local accountant Elisabete Ferraz Barcelos is understood to have “felt her car breaking down…. and did what is never advisable”, writes national tabloid Correio da Manhã.

She stopped in the middle lane of the motorway and got out of the car to put on her reflective jacket and place her breakdown triangle on the tarmac.

Tragically, she never got to do any of it, as a passing truck hit her almost immediately.

The horrific accident took place at 9.30 yesterday morning, but despite the traffic coming and going into the capital, no-one is understood to have witnessed it, and certainly no one stopped.

According to CM, the truck driver was in such a state of shock that he “couldn’t explain anything to police” – but a source for the GNR said afterwards: “One should never stop and leave a car on a motorway.”

INEM rescue teams are reported to have worked for over 30 minutes trying to reanimate the fatally injured woman before her body was removed from the motorway at 11am.

The GNR will now be studying CCTV cameras, to corroborate the sequence of events.

As CM explains, this was the second accident of its kind in 10 days.

Just before Christmas a 71-year-old man was killed on the A1 near Santa Iría da Azoia, in nearby Loures, as he got out of his car to check damage from what was described as a “small scratch”. He was almost instantly hit by a passing car.

And on Tuesday, a 46-year-old woman was killed in front of her 11-year-old daughter as the pair were selling fruit door-to-door in a van in the village of Painçais, in the borough of Cinfães near Penafiel.

Again reported by CM, the van was hit from the back by a drunk driver, and both victims were sent flying out of their vehicle, suffering multiple injuries.

Forty-six-year-old Paula Alexandra Saraiva died later in hospital. Her daughter is understood to have since been discharged.

The drunk-driver, explains CM, was a neighbour of the family and well-known to them.

Thus as traffic police enter this year’s Operation New Year, things could not look much bleaker.

According to statistics, between January 1 and December 21 this year, there were 464 deaths from traffic accidents on Portugal’s roads – that is one more than last year’s tally, and there are still 10 days’ worth of data to collate.

As for other figures, the ANS road authority reports that so far this year has seen 5,000 more accidents on Portugal’s roads than last year, with 40 more serious injuries and 500 more light injuries.

Hopes now are that Operation New Year will prevent further bloodshed and misery.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com