Tuesday 20 March 2018

'You were there at the worst moment of my life' - Tourist pays tribute to locals and gardaí after wife killed at beauty spot

Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland
Gap of Dunloe, County Kerry, Ireland
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The husband of an American woman who died in a cycling accident while holidaying in Kerry has paid tribute to the people of Killarney and local gardaí in a touching letter.

Don Theiler was holidaying in Ireland with his wife Janet in May when she was killed in a tragic accident while cycling.

In his poignant letter to the people of Killarney he recounted the moment the couple's vacation ended in tragedy.

"We were concluding our trip and arrived in Killarney on the evening of May 29 with a day to spend in Killarney before departing for the United States early on the morning of the 31st," he wrote.

"We decided to rent bikes on the 30th and see the sites on the lakes in Killarney National Park and the Dunloe Gap," he writes.

"All was going well until Janet rounded and extremely sharp turn on the very narrow road in Dunloe Gap and struck a trailer full of lambs being pulled by a truck.

"She was killed during the accident."

In the aftermath of Janet's untimely death Mr Theiler said the response from locals and from gardaí went above and beyond his expectations.

"You were there at the worst moment in my life and helped ease the pain in extraordinary ways, most especially with the selfless help of some wonderful people," he said.

Gardaí who were in charge of the investigation helped with everything including bringing Don and his step-daughter back to the scene of the accident so she could see where her mother died. They also brought Don and his loved-ones to the airport when he was returning to the US.

It wasn't only the gardaí but locals who rallied around Janet's heartbroken family.

His B and B would not accept payment.

A local bar provided a quiet area for them to "have a drink and grieve" when they needed it.

"Almost needless to say we did not pay for the pints," he said.

Mr Theiler named a number of local people who helped him in his hour of need and said he one day hopes to return to thank them in person.

"Immediately after the accident, my feelings were that I wanted to get out of Ireland and never return. By the time we got on the plane to make the sad trip back our home, less than 64 hours after the accident, I looked forward to returning to your wonderful city to thank each of you who so thoughtfully opened yourselves to us in such a selfless and generous way," he wrote.

Signing off the letter he said:

"Thank you Killarney you will be forever in our hearts....I have never spent a more remarkable two and a half days under the most terrible of circumstances."

Sharing the letter on their Facebook page gardaí said:

"We are very happy that our small acts of kindness meant so much to Mr Theiler in his time of need and are immensely proud of the members involved - Superintendent Flor Murphy, Sergeant Leo Randles, Garda Brendan O'Donovan, Garda Denis O'Mahony and Detective Garda Chris Manton."

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