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Teen pals among three killed on roads over bank holiday

TWO teenagers who died after their car hit a wall were still alive when friends reached them at the scene.

They were two of three people who lost their lives in crashes during early yesterday. A 41-year-old man also died in Co Kerry.

Shocked villagers in Ballindaggin, Co Wexford, yesterday described how Kevin Rafter (17) and Robert Byrne (18) were talking to friends from the wreckage of their Peugeot 306 when emergency services arrived.

An aunt of one of the teenagers accompanied her nephew in the ambulance as he was rushed to Wexford General Hospital following the incident at 3.30am yesterday.

However, the pair later died from injuries sustained in the crash, which happened less than a half a mile from their homes.

Gardai were last night continuing to investigate the crash in Ballindaggin and were unable to confirm which youngster had been driving. Kevin was a popular footballer with Duffry GFC and Robert was a trainee chef, both of them well known in the small community near Enniscorthy.

Robert was from Coolacarney while Kevin was from Shroughmore.

Despite being familiar with the road, which they travelled every day, the car went out of control at Coolacarney before hitting the wall of a house.

It is understood that two girls rushed to the scene when they heard a loud bang. They knew the victims, and spoke to them while they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Robert's parents, Frank and Mary, and Kevin's father, Thomas, and mother, Bernie, were being comforted by relatives and neighbours yesterday.

Robert completed his Leaving Cert last year and was training as a chef at his local pub, The Holy Grail.

His co-workers paid a moving tribute to him last night, describing him as "very friendly" and "popular".

They said Robert was supposed to be working a late shift on Sunday night but had been allowed to leave early to go into town to meet friends.


Kevin was studying for his Leaving Certificate at FCJ convent in Bunclody. The minor footballer was a keen sports fan -- particularly GAA and horse racing.

His uncle, Louis Rafter, is a well-known former inter-county footballer who played for Wexford in the 1990s.

Wexford county councillor Kathleen Codd-Nolan, who lives in the area, said people were "devastated" by what had happened.

"The families are so good and extremely well-liked. I know the Rafters and they put everything into their boys. It's heartbreaking for them," she said.

She extended her sympathy to the parents of both teenagers, adding that they were "lovely young men".

"A car is a lethal weapon and we can never emphasise that enough," added Ms Codd-Nolan.

Meanwhile, the man killed in a road traffic collision in Co Kerry was named locally as farmer John Costello (41) of Knopogue, Ballyduff.

Mr Costello, who was a bachelor, was killed when his car went out of control and left the road at Slieveawaddra, Ballyduff, and turned over in a nearby field in the early hours of yesterday morning.

He was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was removed to Kerry General Hospital in Tralee for a post-mortem.

Mr Costello was the sole occupant of the car when the crash happened sometime between 3am and 3.30am.

His grandfather, also called John Costello, was a former Fianna Fail senator. He served in the Seanad for two years.

Mr Costello lived with his mother on their farm in Ballyduff.

Irish Independent