Thursday 29 September 2016

Father arrived at Cork accident scene with tractor to help victims - before realising they were his daughter and wife

Ralph Riegel and Caroline Crawford

Published 23/12/2015 | 02:30

Gardaí on the Kilworth to Ballyduff Road, Co Cork, near the scene of the fatal road traffic collision. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Gardaí on the Kilworth to Ballyduff Road, Co Cork, near the scene of the fatal road traffic collision. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

The father and husband of tragic accident victims Louise (22) and Geraldine (58) Clancy arrived at the accident scene to help the victims without realising his family were involved.

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Geraldine (58) and Louise (22) Clancy drowned in a field which was flooded by the River Blackwater in north Cork after a horror car crash with another vehicle just 1km from their home. The accident occurred on the Fermoy-Ballyduff road between Kilworth and Ballyduff shortly before noon yesterday.

Accident victim Louise Clancy
Accident victim Louise Clancy

Noel Clancy, a respected local farmer, arrived at the scene with his tractor after he heard about the collision, hoping he could help.

He was at the scene as the pair were given the Last Rites.

His other daughter Fiona was also with him but was kept back from the scene.

Louise, who studied at University College Cork (UCC) and then at the University of Sussex in England, had flown back to Cork from Brighton last weekend to spend Christmas with her parents, Noel and Geraldine, and her siblings Fiona and Declan

Geraldine Clancy
Geraldine Clancy

She became a member of the UCC journalism society and recently began studies at the University of Sussex. She was studying for a degree in English Literature and Sociology. She had also been a volunteer for some time with the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.

In a recent blog she posted on the French terror attacks, she told her family how much she loved them.

"To my loved ones: I love you all so much and I am so grateful that you have made my life happy and worth living", she wrote.

She  had decided to have "a girls' day out" yesterday with her mother and sister to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in Fermoy. However, Fiona decided to stay at home.

Read more: 'At least four' will die on roads over Christmas

Mrs Clancy and her daughter will repose at Ronayne's Funeral Home in Fermoy on Christmas Eve and will be buried together on St Stephen's Day.

The heartbroken Clancy family were being comforted last night by Kilworth parish priest Canon Donal Leahy.

He spoke of his experience at the scene to Morning Ireland:

“I went to the scene, when I was approaching I knew one of the garda there. I said ‘Peter, who are the people?’, and when he told me I was devastated because I knew them so well.

“So I went there to give them the Last Rites and anoint them and pray for them.

“The husband Noel was in shock, deep shock. He could not believe it was his daughter and wife.”

He said the entire community is in shock over the tragic event.

“For us all, for the whole community we’re still in deep shock. While I didn’t sleep very well last night only thinking about that family. I woke up and it was like waking for a nightmare - but it really happened and it will never go away.

“I know the family quite well I’ve been in that house very often. I attended Noel’s parents when they were dying and often called there. I know the family very well.”

He said that the area the car was submerged in was not normally under water.

“There wouldn’t be water there normally at all, but because of the heavy weather heavy rains in recent times there was a big pool there and the car went into that and overturned and they weren’t able to get them out in time.

He also said he consoled the driver of the other car as well at the scene.

“That was probably the saddest part of all, (they were) neighbours, friends. We really have to remember two, for every accident there is another side as well.”

Family friend councillor Frank O'Flynn said both the Kilworth and Ballyduff communities were deeply shocked by the scale of the tragedy.

"People just cannot believe it. A dark cloud has been cast over the area. It is hard to credit that something this terrible could happen just a few days before Christmas," he said, describing it as a freak accident with unimaginable consequences.

It appears there was a collision between two passing vehicles - and the car carrying the mother and daughter spun out of control. It ploughed through a ditch and into an adjacent flooded field.

"They never had a chance. Once the car went into the water there was little or no chance of anyone getting out," a source said.

Both mother and daughter are believed to have drowned. The driver of the other vehicle, a young woman who lives near the Clancy family, escaped serious injury but was treated at the scene for extreme shock.

Louise had been a student at Loreto Secondary School in Fermoy. One former student, who asked not to be named, described her as "an inspiration to all who met her".

Read more: Community in mourning after mother (58) and daughter (22) killed in Christmas crash tragedy

Louise suffered from a learning disability but was determined throughout her studies at Loreto not to allow it interfere with her career plans.

Meanwhile, the sister of a young man killed in a separate three-car collision has described him as her "best friend".

Luan McCaul (20) died in the multi-vehicle crash in Galway which left six others, including a week-old baby, hospitalised.

A woman who had been travelling with her small infant suffered serious injuries in the crash but is now making a good recovery in University Hospital Galway. The baby did not suffer any serious injuries.

Mr McCaul - who is survived by his parents Peter and Senny, and siblings Ruby, Caoilfhinn and Murachadh - will be buried tomorrow.

His heartbroken sister Caoilfhinn posted a message on social media expressing her loss at his sudden death.

"RIP Luan, can't believe you're gone you weren't just my brother but my best friend, love you forever," she wrote.

Irish Independent

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