Saturday 23 September 2017

Hit-and-run driver who hit three pensioners was on bail at the time

The scene of the crash where a stolen Hyundai car knocked down two local men ending up hitting a car in the grounds of Parteen Pitch and Putt club in Co. Clare just 3 kms north of Limerick city
The scene of the crash where a stolen Hyundai car knocked down two local men ending up hitting a car in the grounds of Parteen Pitch and Putt club in Co. Clare just 3 kms north of Limerick city

By Kathryn Hayes

THE 26-year-old driver of a car that ploughed into three pensioners outside a Pitch and Putt course in Co Clare was on bail at the time, it has emerged.

Retired pensioner Eric Ryan (79) lost his leg following the horrific incident and remains in a critical condition at University Hospital Limerick.

The 79-year-old and two of his friends, retired Garda Liam 'Willie ' Barry (77) and Dermot O'Brien a retired postman also in his 70's, were chatting in the car park of the Parteen Pitch and Putt course when they were struck by a Hyundai Accent shortly after 5pm yesterday. 

The driver of the car which was being pursued by a Garda Patrol car at the time is well known to Gardai and was on bail for burglary offences at the time.

He and a second suspect are believed to have been involved in a spate of burglaries in the nearby Doonas area of Clonara yesterday.

They were being pursued by Gardai when they drove straight through the junction of Parteen village and veered across the road crashing into the three pensioners and two parked cars.

Both men fled the scene but the driver was arrested a short time later on a drink driving charge but has since been re-arrested on suspicion of endangerment.

The second suspect remains at large.

The most seriously injured man Eric Ryan (77), from College Park, Corbally, Limerick, was pinned underneath the Hyundai and fire fighters had to use special cutting equipment to release him.

The 79-year-old had to have his leg amputated last night due to the extent of his injuries and remains in a critical condition at University Hospital Limerick.

Mr Ryan's next door neighbour and long time friend Liam 'Willie' Barry a retired Garda who worked in the PSV office in Henry Street Garda Station remains in a stable condition at University Hospital Limerick.

The third man Dermot O'Brien also in his seventies and from Richmond Park in Corbally has been discharged from hospital.

The three men had travelled in Mr Barry's car to Parteen for a game of Pitch and Putt, which they did every Tuesday and Thursday.

Their friend retired Garda Cormac Hurley played with the men just last Tuesday and would have been with them yesterday only that he had to travel to Loughrea.

"Liam Barry is my brother in law, he is married to my sister Kitty. I just couldn't believe it when I heard and lots of people were calling me as they thought I was with them," said Mr Hurley who is also a well known retired Limerick City and County Councillor.

"He's very badly shaken up, and I am just going out to see him in the hospital now. His wife is my one and only sister and for this to happen to her husband is just awful. I felt sick when I heard about it all, it is just devastating."

"Eric Ryan is one of the nicest people you could meet, an exceptionally nice man who would always see me safely across the road and always looked after me knowing I have some health issues," added Mr Hurley.

Local County Councillor Cathal Crowe said the entire community in Parteen is shocked and saddened by yesterday's horrendous events.

"There is a feeing of just utter shock and sadness in the entire area and it's just awfully sad to think someone has lost a limb and three lives were put in such grave danger."

Cllr Crowe who is a sixth class teacher in Parteen National School just two hours earlier the village would have been "chock a block" with parents cars and school children.

"Had this happened two hours earlier more that 300 kids from the local school would have been making their way across this road."

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