| 9.3°C Dublin

Heartache over freak death of tragic Donal

MYSTERY: Backpacker hit by out-of-control car

The family of backpacker Donal Bolton have spoken of their devastation after the young Offaly man was killed in a freak accident in Australia.

Donal (23), from Ballinagar, Co Offaly, had been in Australia since last March with his longtime girlfriend, Justine Walsh (22), and the pair decided to travel the country before they came home in just a few weeks.

However, as they were outside enjoying some sunshine on a patch of grass in the busy city of Cairns, an out-of-control car ploughed into them.

They had been in Cairns only a short time when the tragic accident happened.

Mr Bolton was crushed beneath the car and Justine is still in Cairns Base Hospital recovering from injuries, but has been described as being in stable condition.

He was the youngest of three siblings with one sister Elaine (29) and brother Eoghan (26).

Sister Elaine told the Herald how "shocking" it was when her parents, Margaret and Eugene, and family learned of her youngest sibling's untimely death.

The family have not yet made funeral arrangements, although they do have extended family members in Australia who have been helping Justine cope as she recovers.


"Everyone is devastated as you can imagine," she said.

"I don't think they will be going over at the moment. There are lots of bits and pieces to be sorted still. My aunt lives there, and she may be flying back over with him, but no arrangements have been made."

Donal and Justine pair have been together for the past five years, but spent the last 11 months in Melbourne, where Donal was working on a farm.

"He was in Australia since last March working in Melbourne. He and Justine had decided to travel a bit before they came home in February.

"Justine is still in hospital, but she's going to be okay. She has a few cuts and bruises, but will be fine," Ms Bolton said.

On onlooker described the moments before the freak accident which took the life of the young man.

"It just came flying through the mall. The car was airborne. It hit the woman first. Then it became airborne again as it came off the grass area and it must have dragged the man down onto the path. The driver was frothing at the mouth and his eyes were rolling to the back of his head," she said.

Donal was trapped underneath the car when paramedics tried to revive him and placed wooden blocks under the car to lift him. However, he was declared dead at the scene.

There is speculation that the driver suffered some kind of seizure which caused the car to go out of control.