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Saturday 29 April 2017

'She was the most bubbly, happy person you could meet' - family of woman killed in garda chase demand answers

Crash victim Jillian Thornton (centre) with (from left) her father Derek, her sister Elaine, her mother Lorraine and her brother Derek
Crash victim Jillian Thornton (centre) with (from left) her father Derek, her sister Elaine, her mother Lorraine and her brother Derek
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

The family of a 20-year-old childcare worker who was killed when the car she was travelling in crashed during a garda pursuit has said they are in a state of "absolute shock".

Paying tribute to her sister Jillian Thornton, who died at the scene of the crash at Duleek, Co Meath, Elaine Thornton described her as "the most bubbly, happy person you could meet".

Elaine called for a full investigation into the tragedy and told the Irish Independent that the family wants to see the people responsible for what happened to be held to account.

Jillian, a childcare worker and skilled darts player, from Halpin's Terrace, Drogheda, Co Louth, would have turned 21 on July 14.

"She was the most bubbly, happy person you could meet," said Elaine.

"Everyone loved her, she was a great sister, a great auntie and a great friend," she said.

Jillian Thornton (20) who was killed in a car crash on Friday night.
Jillian Thornton (20) who was killed in a car crash on Friday night.

"We are all in absolute shock. She would have been 21 in July, but now she is never going to see her 21st."

Jillian was fatally injured when the Mitsubishi Colt she was in crashed into a Volkswagen Passat at around 10.30pm on Friday. The crash took place on the N2 at Waterside Great, Duleek.

It is understood that the collision was nearly head-on and that the young woman was thrown from the car.

She was a back seat passenger in the car and was pronounced dead at the scene.

"We want to see the person or persons to be held accountable for what they have done," Ms Thornton said.

Speaking about her sister, she added: "She had just finished her childcare course. She absolutely loved children. She loved playing darts and she was a great darts player."

She added that Jillian played with the Louth darts team.

Gardaí released without charge a man arrested in connection with the crash and a file will be prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Officers confirmed that at the time of the crash they were following the Mitsubishi Colt because they wanted to speak to the driver.

The male driver of the Colt, aged in his early 40s, and the female front seat passenger (20), were taken to Blanchardstown Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Meanwhile, the male driver of the Passat and his female passenger, both aged in their 30s, were removed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Their injuries are also not believed to be life threatening.

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) confirmed it is carrying out an investigation into the tragedy.

"The fatal road traffic incident which occurred on the N2 was referred to GSOC because the car which crashed was under pursuit by gardaí prior to the incident occurring," GSOC said in a statement.

"GSOC investigators attended the scene. There are parallel investigations under way. GSOC's investigation will focus primarily on matters relating to the conduct of the garda pursuit."

Meanwhile Jillian's family are preparing for her funeral later this week. Jillian will be reposing at her home from 4pm until 9pm tomorrow and Wednesday. Her funeral takes place at St Mary's Church, James's Street at 11am on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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