Tributes to young pilot tragically killed in car crash
Tributes have been paid to a "highly talented" pilot who was tragically killed in a road crash in Co Limerick.
The single-vehicle incident occurred on the N20 Limerick Cork road at Ballyphillip, Banogue, Co Limerick, around 11.50pm on Sunday night.
Gardaí believe the driver, Denis Metcalfe, (25), from Copstown Cross, Mallow, Cork, may have suffered a heart attack before crashing his black two-door Peugeot into two ditches.
Mr Metcalfe, who was a first officer pilot with Stobart Air, formerly Aer Arann, managed to exit the car after it came to a slow stop but he collapsed to the ground moments later and died.
Gardai said he was immediately attended to by a off-duty nurse who was passing at the time.
"There was a nurse on the scene fairly quickly and she tried to keep him alive. He was also attended to by an ambulance crew with a defibrillator," a garda source said.
A post mortem was due to be carried out at University Hospital Limerick to try to ascertain the cause of death.
It's believed Mr Metcalfe was travelling to his home in Mallow from Shannon Airport, where he was based.
"He was driving home, and, it appears he slowed down and he hit a ditch, and he drove on further and hit another ditch, there wasn't any speed involved," the garda said.
"When he got out of the car a witness saw that he just collapsed, so I would say it was a (sudden) medical condition. He was a healthy guy apparently, and he got out of the car and spoke to a witness and then collapsed. The post mortem will tell us more," the garda added.
The road, which was closed for several hours - to allow a garda forensic collision investigator examine the scene - has been reopened.
In a statement paying tribute to Mr Metcalfe, his company said: "Everyone at Stobart Air is deeply saddened by the tragic passing last night of our colleague, First Officer Denis Metcalfe. Denis joined Stobart Air on 31 March this year.
"A former flight instructor at the Atlantic Flight Training Centre, Denis successfully completed his pilot training and was assigned to our Shannon Airport base."
"He quickly became a very popular and highly regarded member of staff. In his short time with us, Denis made a positive impact with everyone who worked with him.
"His skills as a pilot had already marked him out as a highly talented professional, with a promising career ahead."