Chase drama as dad sped off with children
TEACHERS alerted gardai about a father who unexpectedly took his three children out of school at 10am.
A major search that involved air and ground resources was launched by gardai yesterday who were worried that the children could be harmed.
The dad was undergoing medical treatment today in what officers have described as a "very tragic case".
It is understood that the man dropped off his girls, aged seven, nine and 12, to school in Rathnew, Co Wicklow as normal.
However, he returned shortly afterwards and asked staff to take them out of the classroom again.
Concerned teachers at the school were involved in a brief confrontation with the man as they tried to dissuade him from taking the children.
However, he drove away with them in his own car which he later switched with a borrowed car in what is believed to have been an attempt to thwart gardai searches.
Gardai issued a public appeal for information on the whereabouts of the blue Nissan Almera as they set up roadblocks and launched the gardai helicopter.
They asked the public not to approach the driver of the Almera but to immediately contact Wicklow or any other garda station, or telephone 999.
The car was seen in Woodview estate in Ashford around 10.30am and its description was circulated to all garda units in Wicklow and surrounding counties.
As gardai stepped up their search, one of their patrol crews spotted the Almera on the N11 road near Rathnew village and went in pursuit.
The Almera exited the N11 at the Ballinabarney junction, outside Rathnew. The driver lost control, hit a road sign and ended up on a roundabout.
An eyewitness said: "It was a serious wallop and it's lucky that no one was injured. The children seemed a bit shaken but were otherwise fine."
Gardai established that the children were unhurt and they were taken away from the scene.
The children's father was taken to Wicklow Garda Station and detained under the Mental Health Act while medical treatment for him was being organised. Parents collecting their children from the school yesterday afternoon were shocked to learn of the earlier incident.
One mother said she had heard the media alert on the radio but had not realised that her daughter's school was linked.