Thursday 18 January 2018

Exclusive: 'She was full of life... I've been to too many funerals' - Grandfather of teen killed in crash

Kiara Baird (inset)
Kiara Baird (inset)
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A Dublin teenager who was killed in a horror road crash in Donegal has been described as a girl who constantly wanted more from life.

Kiara Baird (19) who was originally from Clondalkin, died along with Maria Wallace (38) when the car in which they were traveling with a man in his 20s lost control on a bend on the Glenfin Road, on the outskirts of Ballybofey, Co Donegal at 4.15pm on Wednesday.

Ms Wallace is believed to be a mother of three boys.

Today Kiara’s grandfather Declan paid tribute to her, as he came to terms with the shocking news in his Clondalkin home.

He said Kiara had moved with her mother Tracy and her three siblings to Donegal around six years ago to make a better life for themselves because Tracy did not want to bring up her children in Dublin.

“She wanted her children to be safe. I reared all my family here in the city, and I wouldn't change that, but times have changed a lot since then and Tracy didn't want her children reared in the city,” said Declan.

Kiara Baird
Kiara Baird

“There's another daughter of mine in Kerry for the same reason,” he added.

“Kiara was our first grandchild. The first of the next generation of 13 grandchildren. She was special because of that.

“She was full of life and full of questions, and constantly wanted more from life. Kiara would still come down to Dublin a lot to go out with friends, and I would see her often. What happened is just awful,” he added.

“I'm a youth worker myself, and I’ve known a lot of young people killed in car crashes as a result. I’ve been to too many funerals.

“I don't know what happened in the crash. I don't want to be a person looking for any blame. All I know is Kiara is gone. All I know is we miss her,” Declan explained.

He said Kiara had been on a training course in Donegal in recent times.

The crash happened on what was billed as the European Day Without A Road Death (EDWARD) - an initiative that was hoped would see no road deaths in Europe for one day.

It is understood the blue Citroen C3 that the three were travelling in left the R252 road on a sweeping bend.

The car collided with a pole and came to a stop in a parking area for trucks.

The weather at the time was said to be poor, and the area experienced heavy downpours of rain yesterday, following a two-day dry spell.

Gardaí attended the scene shortly after the incident and the road remained closed for a number of hours last night.

Kiara was pronounced dead at the scene while Ms Wallace was taken to Letterkenny University Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

The man, who was aged in his 20s, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was also taken to Letterkenny University Hospital. No other injuries were reported.

Tributes were paid online to the pair this morning.

Friend Victoria Sweeney wrote of Kiara: "Such a shock, rip beautiful girl sleep tight Kiara Baird gone but never forgotten you will be sadly missed."

Another pal described the teenager as "a wee legend" who was "always the life of the party".

Sophia Villa wrote on Facebook of Ms Wallace, who was also known as Maria Carlin: "Life is just so fragile you forget just how quickly it can be taken away in the saddest of circumstances. Rest well with the Angels Maria Carlin. Please keep my siblings and their family in your prayers tonight folks."

Jackson's Hotel is around 800m from the crash site in the town land of Camish and a staff member said she understood one of the deceased was the relative of a colleague.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Patrick McGowan described the incident as an awful tragedy.

"There's families now just waiting for bad news. It's terrible," he said.

Gardaí have appealed for witnesses and anyone with information has been asked to contact them at Letterkenny Garda Station on 074 9167100, the Garda Confidential Line, 1800 666111 or any garda station.

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