THE family of a young man killed in a traffic accident believe that his car strayed on to a grass verge before crashing into a fallen tree.
Adam O'Donnell, from Fethard, Co Tipperary, was driving to work in his 1999 Peugeot van when it skidded out of control and careered across the road, hitting the tree trunk.
The 19-year-old, who was the sole occupant, was pronounced dead at the scene. The body was removed to Waterford General Hospital shortly after 8.30am for a post-mortem.
Gardai said there was no clear reason as to what caused the crash on a straight stretch of road between the main Coolmore stud farm and Fethard.
The trainee mechanic had completed the Leaving Cert in June at Fethard's Patrician Presentation secondary school, before taking up a training course in Clonmel.
He had just started an apprenticeship at JJ Kavanagh & Sons in Urlingford and was on his way to work.
While the cause of the accident is unknown, his family said he was an experienced and safe driver.
"He clipped something on the left-hand side of the road which caused him to cross the road and crash into the tree," his grandmother Sheila O'Donnell told the Irish Independent.
"There wasn't a mark on him; he probably broke his neck. They think the tool box in the back might have hit him too.
"But we don't know for sure, the post-mortem will tell us all that. He was doing an apprenticeship to become a mechanic and was due to go to college in the springtime."
Investigators confirmed that a "sizeable tool box" was found in the car but it was "without a bulkhead (to secure it), so that would have caused its own damage".
They also believe that torrential rain and gale-force winds yesterday morning were a factor, leading to speculation that the car was blown by a gust of wind.
Mr O'Donnell's parents were in Edinburgh for a Valentine's break when they were informed of the tragedy, his grandmother said.
"He was a very tall, quiet young lad. He was interested in motors and had driven loaders for a company during the holidays and weekends," Mrs O'Donnell added.
"There was heavy rain at the time and he had actually left early that morning because the weather was so bad and he didn't want to be late for work.
"Before he departed, he told his sister to be careful because she was also driving in another direction."
The death of the teenager was the 21st fatal road victim on the roads so far this year and the sixth person to die in road accidents this month.
The roadway where the fatal crash happened was closed by gardai for a number of hours afterwards and diversions were put in place, while forensic crash investigators carried out an examination of the accident scene.
Anyone with information on the incident has been asked to contact Clonmel garda station at 0526 177640.