Rescued man knew girlfriend had died
Published 17/11/2011 | 05:00
A Limerick man hospitalised with serious injuries after a horrific road collision in Australia knew as he was cut from the wreckage of his car that his girlfriend had died in the collision.
Kelly Meehan (31), from Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare, died at the scene when a car veered on to the wrong side of the road on the Great Northern Highway in Western Australia and crashed head on into the hatchback being driven by her boyfriend, Patrick Gibbs (26).
Mr Gibbs, who is a civil engineer in Australia, was rushed to hospital by emergency services personnel, who have been praised for saving his life. He is still in hospital receiving treatment.
The couple, who had been in a relationship for over five years after meeting while studying at Trinity College, Dublin, only returned to Australia last week following a brief holiday home.
They were making the nine-hour drive from Perth to their home on the west coast when the crash happened earlier this week.
Patrick's father, Jim, last night said he was still trying to come to terms with the tragedy. Prayers for Ms Meehan were said at a special Mass organised by the Gibbs family on Tuesday night.
"There was up to 100 people here in the house in Ballypatrick, Co Tipperary, last night praying and thinking of the two of them," Mr Gibbs said.
"It was only last week that I got to know Kelly. What a lovely girl.
"When she was leaving, I said: 'We'll see you again soon'. That was all I said to her. We are in bits over Kelly. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family."
He praised the police and ambulance staff who arrived at the scene of the accident.
"They responded so quickly. Patrick was conscious when he was taken away from the crash, but he knew Kelly was dead," Mr Gibbs said.
"He is badly broken up. One of his legs is shattered," he added.
After initial treatment at Geraldton Regional Hospital, Mr Gibbs was transferred by helicopter to a Perth hospital, where he remains.
Ms Meehan, who was the oldest of four sisters and one brother, was born in California but moved back to Newmarket-on-Fergus with her family while still a child.
Her aunt, Agnes Coleman from Cappamore, Co Limerick, said Ms Meehan was "an amazing girl". "If it wasn't for the tragedy, the two of them would have been cheering on Ireland last night," she said.
"Her dad, Martin, is from Newmarket-on-Fergus and he headed off to the States in the early 1970s. The family came back here in 1991. They went back to the States again in 1995.
"Kelly has been back here ever since. She worked with Chorus in Limerick for a few years and travelled across the world with Patrick," Mrs Coleman said.
Ms Meehan's parents Martin and Maureen live in the US; while her sister, Erin, is studying at Trinity College and another sister, Taragh, works as a head chef in Dublin.
Members of both families are travelling to Australia.