Two men die in crash after overtaking off-duty garda
TWO young men were killed and two others left fighting for their lives after a car carrying five young eastern Europeans overtook an off-duty garda just seconds before it collided head-on with an oncoming vehicle on Carr's Hill in Cork yesterday.
The tragedy came just 24 hours after Timothy Hayes (21) died in a separate and unrelated single-vehicle crash off the same Cork-Carrigaline road.
Four others travelling in the same car as Mr Hayes escaped serious injury when the vehicle spun out of control and collided with a pole at Waterpark, Carrigaline.
Last night, Mr Hayes's family said they were "absolutely devastated".
"Tim was such a lovely lad, he had so many friends. The area is totally shattered by this," Tim Hayes Snr's partner Catherine, told the Irish Independent.
The Hayes family lost Tim's mother, Elma, several years ago.
Meanwhile, two separate investigations are under way into the Carr's Hill tragedy -- one by gardai and the other by the Garda Ombudsman.
The off-duty garda was forced to swerve into a ditch to avoid debris from the horrific head-on collision shortly after 6.30am.
Gardai are also investigating reports that the eastern Europeans left a Cork city hotel less than an hour before the collision. The group are reported to have had a party in their hotel bedroom.
Garda sources last night stressed the off-duty garda was only a peripheral figure in the tragedy.
He was driving his Renault Laguna to work in Carrigaline from Cork when he was overtaken by a 2001-registered BMW 5 series, which contained four men and one woman.
Some distance on, the BMW collided head-on with a Toyota Avensis travelling in the opposite direction.
Such was the quantity of debris from the impact, the garda was forced to swerve into the ditch to avoid striking them.
The garda then tried to assist the injured at the scene until paramedics arrived.
All five had to be cut free from the wreckage.
Two young men -- the driver and a back-seat passenger -- sustained multiple injuries and died at the scene. Both are understood to be Estonian nationals in their 20s.
Two other men travelling in the BMW also suffered multiple injuries and were rushed to Cork University Hospital. One man underwent emergency surgery last night. The other remains in a critical condition.
A young woman travelling in the car escaped major injury.
The two occupants of the Toyota -- which ended up a field -- were taken to CUH for treatment. Both are Irish and neither sustained life-threatening injuries.