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Driver quizzed after popular student killed in hit-and-run

The driver of a car involved in a hit-and-run incident which claimed the life of student Joe McLaughlin has been questioned by gardai.

The man presented himself to gardai yesterday, hours after the tragic incident, according to sources. Gardai interviewed the man yesterday afternoon.

The driver had failed to remain at the scene of the collision which happened at 4.40am at Tiernaleague, Carndonagh.

A post-mortem examination was carried out on the body of the 23-year-old student at Letterkenny Hospital yesterday. He was struck just a few minutes walk from his home.

Local parish priest Fr Con McLaughlin told the Herald today he attended at the scene of the incident after receiving a call from gardai. A passing taxi driver discovered the body and had raised the alarm.

Shocked

Fr McLaughlin said the whole community was shocked and deeply saddened by the death of the popular young man whose funeral will take place in Carndonagh at noon on Wednesday. He was a final year mechanical engineering student at NUI Galway and within a few months of completing his studies.

He is survived by his parents, Willie Joe, a farmer, and Mary, a retired nurse, and three sisters.

Anthony Burke, the chairman of his GAA club, Carndonagh, said: "He was just a lovely, lovely young man. I would have been proud to call him my own," he said.

"He had his whole life ahead of him. He had even set up a job with an uncle in America for the summer holidays. 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 young lad he was," he said.

The student became the first pedestrian to die on Irish roads in 2010. The first person to lose his life on the roads this year was Noel Hayes, of Shanagolden, Co Limerick, who was fatally injured when his car skidded and hit a tree on Saturday.

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, Co Limerick.

Rushed

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, he also helped out on the family farm. He was an older brother of champion jockey, Chris Hayes, who started out his career on the pony racing circuit. "He was a lovely fella and very helpful," said a family friend.

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.

There was also an accident near the village of Clonmany in Co Donegal on Saturday evening when an elderly woman was seriously injured when her car crashed and ended up in a river. A motorist, who was travelling behind, held the woman's head out of the water until the emergency services arrived.

aokeeffe@herald.ie


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