Sunday 18 March 2018

Road crash horror: What Fr McNamara saw

Fr Kevin McNamara, of St Mary's Cathedral in Killarney, was asked to go to the scene of the accident which killed four teenagers on Wednesday morning. In an emotional and touching account, he recalls the events he saw on the Killarney to Mallow road and the aftermath in the small Kerry community.

WHEN you get a call like that you don't go asking for details, you just run as quickly as possible.

A million things ran through my mind and heart. I prayed to the Lord that things wouldn't be too gruesome, or what was I facing, or please God that I would have the strength to face it.

When I got there, I parked the car and then I saw the emergency and the ambulances there and the road was closed off.

At this stage, two of them (the car's occupants) had gone to Tralee hospital and Brian Coffey was one of them. Brian died at 12pm.

I will still remember it. I always will. Just in the stretcher, being lifted out. The first thing I saw was a small little tracksuit. It was Kevin. He was 15.

He is a small little lad and I didn't know him from the distance but I just said: "Oh my God, this is a child."

They came up from the field and came out the gate and brought him on to the road and put him in a wheel stretcher and the doctor examined him and he was pronounced dead there and then.

I blessed him with the oils and I recognised him as Kevin Breen from Ballyspillane.

Then the second one came out and he was pronounced dead as well, to discover he was his brother David.

And then Aine came out and for Aine there seemed to be a little bit of hope for a few moments.

The medical team were frantically trying to resuscitate her and it just went on and on. You see little clothes there, and you see the scissors that comes, that has to cut the clothes, and the work begins.

I was praying and I was praying. It was about 40 minutes later and they put the blanket on her and she had gone too.

Then I headed out the road. I suppose I was there about an hour and a half. I headed back into Killarney and I thought "What is this day going to bring the families? What is it going to bring?"

Their lives will never be the same again.

I have been thrown a million and one questions and I don't have answers. I suppose what we have is the willingness of people to stand together and help and encourage each other.

I was out with the Breens and to stand on a kitchen floor and witness that they have lost two teenage sons -- not one -- two, just in seconds.

All we could do was just hug each other.

Amid it all, I try as best I can to focus them and point them to a God who understands, a God who is not judgmental and a God who takes these young people to a better place -- a place where they can party, a place where they can enjoy life to the full.

The family is numb. I would say they are just waiting for a second to kind of say, "will we wake up and find that this is a dream? That this is not real." They are kind of in dazed shock.

You never, never, in your wildest dreams anticipate (this), and especially when they are up and running.

Okay, if you have anxiety when a child is born, and a child might be in Crumlin (children's hospital) or in hospital on a machine -- there is sheer anxiety.

But when they are up and out of the nest and running and energetic, you never anticipate that the cycle of life will be that as a parent, you will bury them rather than the other way around.

This is an edited version of Fr McNamara's account as told to Ryan Tubridy on 2FM yesterday morning

Irish Independent

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