Sunday 16 June 2019

Irishman and his wife die in New York after suspected drink-driver rams car

John Heneghan (33) and Caitlin Holtzman (32) on their wedding day
The couple were kiled in a car crash in Albany, New York
John Heneghan (33) and Caitlin Holtzman (32) on their wedding day The couple were kiled in a car crash in Albany, New York
Wreckage: Police remove one of the cars involved in the crash from the scene. Photo: Brooke Kelly Selby. Inset: John John Heneghan and Caitlyn Holtzman

Robin Schiller and Denise Calnan

An Irishman and his wife were killed when their car was rammed by an alleged drunk-driver in New York State.

A 58-year-old man has been charged with vehicular homicide over the deaths of John John Heneghan (33) and Caitlin Holtzman (32).

Three other people in the couple's car were seriously injured.

They had stopped at a traffic light when another vehicle, approaching from the other side of the road, left its lane and ran into them.

The tragedy happened on Saturday afternoon in the town of Clifton Park, around 30km north of Albany, New York.

Mr Heneghan was originally from Tourmakeady in Co Mayo, but had been living and working in the New York area.

Tragedy: John John Heneghan and his wife Caitlyn
Tragedy: John John Heneghan and his wife Caitlyn

His wife was a US citizen.

Last night, a family member said: "We are heartbroken by the loss of John and Caitlin.

"Our thoughts are with their friends in hospital, we are thinking of their families at this time."

The couple met while Mr Heneghan was working in the US, and married in Ireland in 2015.

Fr John Kenny, parish priest of Tourmakeady, said the community was trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

He added that his thoughts are with the families of the couple, and the three injured people.

"We heard the word come through (yesterday) and naturally his family are very upset and shocked," Fr Kenny told the Irish Independent.

"We don't have details apart from that there was an accident and he and his wife were killed.

"And three people with them were injured."

The priest said Mr Heneghan retained strong links with the Tourmakeady area, where his family still life.

"John, his dad is a widower, his mother passed away a number of years ago. He also has siblings," said Fr Kenny.

"In the community he would have been a very popular young man before emigrating to America.

"He came home to get married to his wife a number of years ago in 2015.

"He's always had a strong connection with home, and he was very popular with all of his peers."

Fr Kenny said Mr Heneghan and his wife had met in the US before later marrying in Ireland.

"May they rest in peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with both families, with their friends and with the three people who were injured," he said.

The three other people injured were named as Luke O'Doherty (25) and Enda Crowley (25), both of whom are understood to be originally from Ireland, and Julia Staples (24).

They sustained serious injuries which were not life-threatening, and were transferred to Albany Medical Centre.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said last night it was providing consular assistance in relation to the case.

The New York State Police are investigating the crash which happened at around 3pm local time.

Investigators said a car left its lane and collided into the vehicle containing Mr Heneghan and Ms Holtzman.

A man was later arrested as part of the investigation, and has appeared in court.

He has been named by the New York State Police as Dickie R Winn (58), of Cohoes, New York.

The defendant has been charged with aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular manslaughter as well as driving while intoxicated.

"Winn was charged after the vehicle he was operating left its lane of travel and struck a stopped vehicle, killing two passengers and seriously injuring three others," a police spokesman said.

"Winn was arraigned in Clifton Park Town Court and remanded to Saratoga County Jail without bail. He is due back in court on May 29 at 4pm."

Local reports of Mr Winn's bail hearing state he is a US army veteran.

Irish Independent

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