Two die in hit-and-run crashes as toll hits 38
A FATHER of three on his way to visit his parents was among two people who died in St Patrick's Day hit-and-run crashes in the Republic.
A third person died in Northern Ireland in a single-vehicle crash.
Jonathan Gray (38) died when struck by a car at 11.30pm on Wednesday while walking on the Hilly road in Drumshanbo, Co Leitrim, close to the lane leading to his parents' home.
The building construction worker had attended the St Patrick's Day parade with his wife and children in their hometown of Cavan before travelling to Drumshanbo to visit his own parents.
Last night gardai in Leitrim were continuing their investigations into the collision and appealed for the public's help in tracing the driver.
Garda Inspector Gerry Connolly said the victim was in a well-lit area and he was only minutes away from the family home.
In Mayo, gardai have launched a major investigation into another hit-and-run incident which claimed the life of a 67-year-old man in Charlestown late on St Patrick's night.
Peter Rushe, a single man from Barnacoogue, Swinford, was driving alone at Barrack Street, Charlestown, at around 10.45pm on Wednesday when his car collided with a second vehicle.
Mr Rushe was taken to Mayo General Hospital in Castlebar where he was pronounced dead.
The driver and the passenger of the second car abandoned their vehicle and ran from the scene, according to eyewitnesses. Mr Rushe had been driving a Nissan Sunny car while the other vehicle was a maroon Peugeot 405 saloon.
Garda Superintendent Ronan Galligan, who is heading the investigation, appealed for more witnesses to come forward.
Mr Rushe, an avid GAA and soccer supporter who played darts in his spare time, was very popular in his local community.
The deaths of the men bring to 38 the number of people who have died on the Republic's roads this year --18 fewer than the number of deaths recorded in the same period in 2009.
Meanwhile in Antrim a 19-year-old man died when he crashed his motorcycle on the Shelling Hill Road in Cullybackey on Wednesday. Seven people have died in road crashes in the North so far this year.