A 16-year-old taxi hijacker, who was killed when a stolen car careered into a tree after colliding with a van, was a garda suspect in a series of robberies including a post office raid.
The dead youth was named last night as Bernard 'Barney' McDonagh, of St James's Place, Inchicore, Dublin.
His accomplice, aged 18, was in a critical condition in hospital last night.
The occupants of the van were not badly hurt but were left traumatised after the incident.
Gardai recovered a serrated kitchen knife, about six inches long, on the roadway near the stolen car. They believe it had been used in the hijacking 40 minutes earlier.
The incident took place at 12.10am yesterday at Glasallen, Co Meath, little more than a mile south of Collon on the N2 road from Slane.
The Toyota Avensis taxi had been hijacked at knifepoint at 11.30pm at the junction of Tyrconnell Road and Emmet Road in Inchicore.
The hijackers flagged down the taxi, jumped in and pointed the knife at the driver.
They told him to drive off, but, instead, he jumped out of the car and ran.
The hijackers then drove on to the M50 and headed northwards. Gardai said their intended destination had not yet been established.
One officer added: "They must have been travelling at some speed to reach Glasallen in 40 minutes."
Investigators believe the driver lost control of the car at Glasallen and it swerved across the road into a Citroen Berlingo van which was travelling towards Slane.
The car struck the van with a glancing blow and then smashed into the tree. The impact of the collision resulted in the two occupants being thrown from the taxi and into a thorn hedge.
Both teenagers were rushed to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where Mr McDonagh was pronounced dead.
Gardai said it was not yet clear which of the teenagers had been driving the car at the time of the crash.
Officers said Mr McDonagh was known to them in Co Meath and had been a suspect in a number of crimes, including robberies from houses and a post office.
He was also known to the gardai in Dublin's south city.
Paddy Lynch, who lives a few hundred metres from the scene of the incident, said the survivors in the van looked deeply shaken.
"My wife heard a loud bang. She didn't really associate it with an accident but shortly afterwards the blue lights started arriving," he added.
"The people in the car were thrown out and they were in the thorns. There was no blood on the road but the first chap they took out of the thorns had blood all over his head.
"The people in the van seemed okay. They were both out of the vehicle when I went down."
Neighbours said car collisions were not uncommon on the N2. Three people were killed in a previous crash close to the scene of yesterday's incident.