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Heartbreak as three teens killed in weekend crashes

THREE youngsters are killed in separate car crashes over the bank holiday weekend, leaving their families devastated.

College students Richard Browne (19) and Kate Fleming (18) died in Co Limerick and Co Cork respectively, while Leaving Cert student Claire Prendergast (17) died in a two-car collision in Co Galway, in which six other people were injured.

Richard's devastated family explained how the UCD economics student had been exhausted from commuting between Dublin, and his home in Balliniska, Feohanagh.

On top of his studies, Richard also had part-time work. He was on his way back home at 8am on Sunday after working a shift at the Dunraven Arms in Adare, Co Limerick, when the accident happened.

His heartbroken mum Mary said that "Richard was so hard-working and he should have had more rest.

"He was going to college in UCD all week and then he was coming down at the weekends and working nights.

"I think he was just too tired to concentrate on the road when he was driving and he crashed.

"He was truly our pride and joy; he was such a perfect person.

"He loved life and he had so much more living to do."

Meanwhile, first-year law and psychology student Kate (pictured) was driving in heavy fog in her dad's Toyota Landcruiser jeep when the accident happened yesterday shortly after 4.30am.

It is understood that she had driven friends home after a social gathering at her family home in Timoleague, Co Cork, when she lost control of the vehicle near a sharp bend in the road at Keohane's Cross outside Clonakilty and the car crashed into the gable end of a cottage.

The home owners were woken by the loud crash and immediately called the emergency services.

"Kate was just being a taxi to her friends and she had driven them all into Clonakilty on Saturday night in her dad's jeep," one of Kate's relatives said.

"She had dropped them all home and was coming back.

"The fog was so bad that you couldn't see the lines on the road.

"She hadn't been drinking and she had just begun driving on her own. It feels like it hasn't really happened.

"Her mum still hasn't come to terms with it. It's like it happened to someone else."

Clonakilty fire brigade members had to cut the student free of the vehicle but she was pronounced dead before she could be transferred to Cork University Hospital.

Her parents, Peter and Kathleen, and their younger son William (14), were informed of the accident within minutes of it being discovered.

"They are completely devastated," explained long-standing family friend John O'Sullivan.

Six other people were injured in a collision near Portumna yesterday morning, which killed Leaving Cert pupil Claire.

Claire and her two 19-year-old friends Samantha Ryan and Aoife Ivers were travelling from Claire's home village of Golden in Tipperary to Loughrea when the tragedy occurred yesterday at around 11.30am.

Their Nissan Micra collided with a Mercedes Benz, carrying four members of a Loughrea family.

A 71-year-old grandfather, his 38-year-old son and the latter's two sons aged one and five were all taken to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe. Their injuries were not life threatening.

The conditions of Claire's friends remained serious today.