The woman who died in a tragic accident when her car overturned on a single track road on the West Side has been named as Angela O’Sullivan, a retired school teacher from North Wales.
Mrs O’Sullivan, 71, was killed instantly when the car she was travelling in left the road on the B9071 between Parkhall and Skeld on Wednesday morning.
The car turned onto its roof and landed in a burn between Effirth and Semblister. Mrs O’Sullivan had been returning home with her husband Dennis from a three-week holiday in Shetland when the accident happened.
The couple had been visiting their daughter Clare and her partner Jim Nuttall over the festive period, which Mrs O’Sullivan had described to her sister as the most wonderful days of her life. They had been trying to reach Sumburgh Airport to catch their flight home.
The visit was the couple’s first trip to Shetland, and the first time they had seen their two grandchildren.
Her husband and Mr Nuttall were also in the car when the crash happened. They were flown to the emergency landing site at the Clickimin Leisure Centre by the Sumburgh-based search and rescue helicopter, before being taken to the Gilbert Bain Hospital.
On Thursday one of the men was released while the other was transferred to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary for further treatment.
It is understood the couple had originally planned to fly home on Tuesday but their flight had been cancelled because of the poor weather and they were told to return the following day.
As a team of specialist accident investigators arrived in the isles to establish the cause of the crash, friends and family members paid tribute to the keen church-goer who always kept herself busy.
Mrs O’Sullivan was a member of the Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Buckley. Her sister, Phyllis Goggin, said Mrs O’Sullivan had kept in regular touch with her while she was away. She last phoned her sister on Tuesday night. Her parting words to Phyllis were: “These past 21 days have been the most wonderful days of my life.”
“Angela had a very distinctive personality,” added Phyllis. “She was always forthright and very, very kind to everyone. She very generously supported a group of priests in Ethopia for many years. She was loved by all our friends at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church in Buckley and will be desperately missed. She will leave a big void in our lives.”
Parish priest Father Francis Doyle said the entire community had been shocked by the accident. “Angela did have a sister here in the parish, and it’s very upsetting,” he said. “A lot of the parishioners here have been at mass praying for Angela’s soul and those who are left in hospital.
“They are very concerned for them, and it is such a tragedy. Angela was a lovely person as well.”
Family friend Joan Gendenning said: “She was visiting her daughter. I knew her from church and we worked together sometimes at Our Lady of the Rosary in Flint. Her family must be devastated. She was a brilliant team-member – I’m so upset. They’re a lovely family and she was a very good friend.”
Another friend, Sue Clamp, said Mrs O’Sullivan had enjoyed “the most wonderful Christmas and New Year with her daughter, grandchildren and son in law in Shetland”.
“She was returning home with her husband Dennis. We are in a total state of shock. Such a tragedy.”
Mrs O’Sullivan had retired from her job as a teacher at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Flint in 1987 after 30 years’ service. The youngest of two sisters and two brothers, she had been married to Dennis for 42 years.
Her daughter Clare, a district nurse superviser, had moved to Shetland five years ago with Mr Nuttall. She also leaves a son, Jonathan, and another daughter, Joanne.
Police Inspector Ross MacKillop said he could not comment on the cause of the accident until officers from the specialist road policing unit in Dingwall arrived to carry out their investigations.
The five officers had been due to arrive on the last flight from on Wednesday, however the persistent bad weather prevented them from flying until Thursday morning.
Inspector MacKillop refused to speculate on whether the crash could have been caused by the poor weather conditions. He added it was “most likely” the road would remain closed while the investigation is underway.
Diversions have been put in place, and disruption to traffic is expected as vehicles are forced to use minor roads which have themselves been affected by bad snow.
Police are reminding all road users to take extra care when driving in the current conditions.