A dramatic garda chase of a stolen van ended in chaotic scenes on the streets of Dublin with three people injured and up to 10 cars damaged.
A stolen Eircom van caused a trail of destruction before losing a front wheel and smashing into a wall in the main street of Ranelagh village.
The Eircom van had been taken at St Stephen’s Green just before 10pm and was pursued by garda patrol cars and the garda helicopter.
One man was trapped in his Mercedes car when the speeding van rammed his car into a wall as it bounced off a line of cars and caused oncoming cars to crash.
A fleet of ambulances rushed to the scene and three people, one seriously injured, were taken to St Vincent’s Hospital.
Local resident Fabiano Pallonetto described hearing “a big noise like a big accident. Then we heard a police car and then more noises like cars crashing.
“When we went out onto the street we saw this guy trapped in a green Mercedes which was mashed into the wall. They guy was stuck inside.
“We didn’t have clue what was happening and then we saw all the damaged cars on the left and right of the road.
“There was an Eircom van crashed into a wall. The front wheel of the van had come off and was in the middle of the road.
“When the firemen came they had to cut the guy out of the car. They opened the top of it like a can.”
Mr Pallonetto said he also saw a man on the ground in front of the van who had been handcuffed by gardai. “He was in his underpants.”
When the chase reached Ranelagh the stolen van ploughed into several vehicles and caused oncoming vehicles to crash in the chaos.
A manager at the Tribeca eatery on the main street said at least 10 cars had been damaged in the incident.
Miriam Ahern, the mother of bestselling author Cecelia Ahern, tweeted: “Really shocking scenes in Ranelagh. Multiple casualties and several cars damaged.
“Like a scene from a movie. A bit hard to take in. Thankfully and miraculously there were no fatalities.”
Witness Larry O’Kelly heard a bang. “I looked around and saw a green car fly forward and smash into a parked car.
“I went over to the driver. I switched off the ignition. He was lucid but he was in shock.” Mr O’Kelly thought the driver was in his 30s.
“About a minute later eight police cars arrived, then another car with a doctor and he tended to the driver.”
Another witness who did not want to be named, described seeing four people on the ground in front of the Eircom van in handcuffs.
He said they were “shouting abuse at the gardai. One of them, a woman, was calling the gardai ‘scumbags’.
The left side of the Eircom Opel Van with a 2007 Dublin registration was completely destroyed as it came to a halt beside Birchhill’s pub.
Two men and two women were arrested at the scene and taken to Irishtown and Pearse Street garda stations.
Clodagh Sheehy, Nicola Anderson