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Thursday 29 June 2017

'Heaven has gained one funny, special and beautiful character' - family pays heartfelt tribute to widowed mum-of-three killed in crash

Woman travelling with her son (14), his friend and an adult female cousin when car collided with car driven by off-duty garda

SCENE: A garda helps clear debris from the scene of the fatal crash in Co Westmeath. Picture: Caroline Quinn
SCENE: A garda helps clear debris from the scene of the fatal crash in Co Westmeath. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Crashed cars on back of recovery trucks being cleared from the scene Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Crashed cars on back of recovery trucks shortly before they are cleared from the scene Picture: Caroline Quinn
Crashed cars on back of recovery trucks being cleared from the scene as motorway maintenance workers clear the debris. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A devastated family have paid tribute to a widowed mother-of-three who was killed in a horrific early-morning crash on Saturday.

Garda watchdog GSOC is investigating the circumstances of the crash involving an off-duty garda that left.

Last night, the victim was named as Jacqueline Wolohan (51), from Coolock, north Dublin, who has two adult daughters aged 32 and 21.

She was on her way back from Longford to her home with her 14-year-old son, his friend and an adult female cousin when the car she was driving was in collision with another driven by an off-duty garda.

Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn

The crash left three other people in hospital, including her son, another child and the family member.

It is understood a family pet was also in the car at the time, but was found dead a short distance away from the collision.

Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn

The officer was also treated for injuries.

The accident happened on the east-bound carriageway of the M4 close to the junction with the M6, near Kinnegad, Co Westmeath, at around 1.30am yesterday.

Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn
Gardai helping motorway maintenance workers clear the debris from crash Picture: Caroline Quinn

One of Ms Wolohan's daughters paid tribute to her mother and thanked friends and family for their messages of support.

"Thank you all for the kind messages today," she wrote on Facebook.

Crashed cars on back of recovery trucks being cleared from the scene Picture: Caroline Quinn
Crashed cars on back of recovery trucks being cleared from the scene Picture: Caroline Quinn

"I'm sorry if I haven't replied but your caring words mean a lot. Today I woke up to the horrific news that my mother had died.

"Heaven has gained one funny, special and beautiful character. Rest in peace ma, your memory will live on forever."

Speaking to the Sunday World, Ms Wolohan's other daughter said: "They were travelling home to Dublin from Longford when it happened.

"We went out to the crash and both cars were still there.

"We were initially looking for my mum's dog Honey as Andrew, my brother, is very close to her.

"We found her but she was dead too and is now with my mam."

The Sunday Independent has learned that a key component of the investigation by the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) will be to establish if anyone involved left the scene of the fatal crash.

Gardai are not releasing any further details on the accident pending the outcome of enquiries by GSOC, which confirmed that it is investigating.

A family friend told the Sunday Independent that the horrific accident has devastated Ms Wolohan's family and friends.

"We're completely and utterly shocked and devastated," the woman said.

She described Ms Wolohan as "a very nice woman" who had lost her husband several years ago and was a stay-at-home mother raising her three children on her own.

She had lived her entire life in the Coolock area and was well respected.

Local councillor Tom Brabazon said the accident has left the local community in shock.

"For anyone from the area to lose their life in circumstances like that is extremely tragic," he said.

"I hope that the GSOC investigation will get to the bottom of it."

A spokeswoman for GSOC refused to "confirm or deny" claims that the garda helicopter was deployed to the scene of the accident.

She also refused to comment on whether anyone has been arrested in connection with the incident.

"We're not releasing any further details," she said.

However, the police watchdog issued a statement which confirmed that "the incident was referred by the Garda Siochana to GSOC under section 102 of the Garda Siochana Act 2005, which provides for independent investigation of 'any matter that appears to indicate that the conduct of a member of the Garda Siochana may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person'."

GSOC is appealing for any-one who witnessed the crash to contact them on 1890 600 800.

Sunday Independent

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