Student killed in hit-and-run is second roads fatality this year
A TALENTED student who was just months away from graduation was killed in a hit- and-run incident yesterday.
Joe McLaughlin, a final-year engineering student at NUI Galway, was killed instantly when he was struck by a car at Tiernaleague, within 10 minutes walk of his Donegal home.
It happened at approximately 4.40am yesterday. A passing taxi driver discovered the body of the 23 year old and raised the alarm.
The driver of the vehicle involved in the collision failed to remain at the scene but, last night, gardai confirmed that they were following a definite line of inquiry.
Mr McLaughlin became the second person to die on the country's roads so far this year after the brother of a champion jockey died on Saturday.
Noel Hayes, of Shanagolden, Co Limerick, was fatally injured just a few hundred yards from his home after his car skidded on ice and crashed.
In Co Donegal, local parish priest Fr Con McLaughlin, who attended Mr McLaughlin at the scene, said there was no kerb where the collision occurred.
"The entire community is devastated. He was just a few months away from completing his studies. Our hearts go out to his parents and sisters," he said.
An only son and the second youngest in a family of four, he is survived by his parents, Willie Joe, a farmer, and Mary, a retired nurse, and three sisters.
The victim was a former member of the Carndonagh GAA Club.
"The whole club is absolutely devastated. He left us last year but he played reserves for about three years and I managed him for two years on the under-18 team," said club chairman Anthony Burke.
"He was just a lovely, lovely young man. I would have been proud to call him my own," he said. He described the former forward as "a strong young fella and a good, hard player".
"And he called into visit his 92-year-old grandmother in Sligo on his way home for the Christmas holidays. That was the kind of lad he was," he said.
He was the first pedestrian to die on our roads this year. The previous day Noel Hayes died in a single-car collision.
Mr Hayes had dropped a number of friends home after going out on New Year's Eve and was driving home when the accident occurred on a minor road at Finnoe, near Ballyhahill. The 25-year-old was seriously injured but his car was not discovered for a number of hours. He was rushed to Limerick Regional Hospital but he died just over 24 hours later from his injuries.
A mechanic by trade, Mr Hayes planned to set up on his own this year. He was also actively involved in the family farm. He was an older brother of champion jockey Chris Hayes, who started out his career on the pony racing circuit. In 2005, Chris was crowned champion apprentice after winning 38 races in just one term.
"He was a lovely fella and very helpful. He fixed up a few of the lads' cars on a few occasions," a family friend said.
He will be buried on Wednesday afternoon at the local St Fenan's church. He is survived by his parents, PJ and Mary, and brothers and sisters, Chris, Sean, Seamus, Paddy, Teresa and Martina.
A man in his early 20s was fighting for his life last night after a single-vehicle crash in treacherous road conditions near the village of Clara, Co Kilkenny. Two other occupants of the car were also rushed to St Luke's Hospital after the collision, which occurred on the main N9 Carlow to Kilkenny road at around 3.30am yesterday morning.
Meanwhile, in Donegal, an elderly lady suffered serious injuries when her car left the road on a dangerous bend and ended up in a river, near the village of Clonmany on Saturday.
A motorist, who was driving behind, held the woman until the emergency services arrived.