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Thursday 21 September 2017

Driver's family call parents of little Kate and Grace Gilmore to express their sympathies

The scene where Two year old Kate Gilmore and her sister Grace [(3 months) were struck and killed by a car at the Milltown Road on the outskirts of Tuam last Sunday. Photo: Frank McGrath
The scene where Two year old Kate Gilmore and her sister Grace [(3 months) were struck and killed by a car at the Milltown Road on the outskirts of Tuam last Sunday. Photo: Frank McGrath
Soft Toys and flowers which were placed at the scene where Two year old Kate Gilmore and her sister Grace (3 months) were struck and killed by a car at the Milltown Road on the outskirts of Tuam last Sunday. Photo: Frank McGrath

Barry Duggan and John Fallon

MEMBERS of the family of the driver whose car killed two little sisters have called to the grieving relatives to express their sympathies.

John O'Connor is recovering in hospital after his 2011-registered Toyota Avensis careered into Kate (2), and her baby sister, Grace Gilmore (12 weeks old), on the outskirts of Tuam, Co Galway.

The horrific accident occurred on the N17, within a half a mile of the O'Connor family home, on Sunday.

Mr O'Connor was told by his brother, Noel, in University Hospital Galway of the two deaths on Sunday night, but until then he had no idea what he had done.

Noel and his father, Tony O'Connor, expressed their sincere condolences with the Gilmore family, and Noel also sympathised at the family home of mum Michelle in Belclare, Co Galway.

"We actually know Michelle's family, which makes it even harder. Everyone knows everyone here," he said.

It is believed that John suffered a seizure, which caused the incident. He last suffered a seizure more than seven years ago.

"It was just a freak accident," Noel said.

"Everybody is saying, 'Why couldn't he have just hit a wall by himself, hit a kerb or anything, instead of those kids'," he added.

Tony said his son remains in hospital. "He has improved. He just had a mark under his eye and he is on a heart monitor," the father said.

"They don't know what happened to him," he added.

Noel said his brother was unaware of the girls' deaths until he told him. "He didn't know what he had done," he said.

Surgery

"It was either a blackout or seizure. They (the medics) say he didn't even know what was happening," Noel added.

John, who is aged in his mid-30s and doesn't drink or smoke, had surgery about seven years ago.

"An operation was done on the head or the brain. He was given the all-clear that time," Noel said.

Investigating officers spoke with John O'Connor last night.

"My heart goes out to the mum and dad here -- it has to," Noel said.

"It is just the kids, like -- two little babies like, for God's sake. You read about it every day in the papers and you hear about it on the radio when you are travelling around.

"And you think oh, Lord Jesus, and then it comes to your home -- that's when it hits you," Noel said.

The two little girls will be laid to rest tomorrow.

Mass of the Angels will be celebrated in the Church of the Sacred Heart in Belclare outside Tuam at 12 noon followed by burial in nearby Killower Cemetery. A minute's silence was observed at a meeting of Galway County Council yesterday afternoon in memory of the two tragic little sisters.

A book of condolence will be open today at Tuam Town Council.

Irish Independent

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