'He was the nicest man you could ever meet' - locals pay tribute to 'gent' Christopher
Tributes have poured in for the pensioner who lost his life after an ambulance caught fire outside Nass General Hospital.
Christopher Byrne (78) had been taken to hospital from his home in Suncroft, Co Kildare.
The elderly man is understood to have previously been an in-patient at Naas General and had been discharged on September 12, but was being brought back to be reassessed.
Last night, heartbroken locals paid tribute to him, describing him as a "gent".
One man, who was friends with Mr Byrne (78), said he had been left devastated by his shocking death.
"We are only just after hearing about what happened.
"To be honest, I'm in absolute shock," he said.
Mr Byrne lived in Ard Brid, a cluster of houses where people were said to know each other well.
It is an area populated with mostly mature residents, who have been left in disbelief about what happened.
"He was the nicest man you could ever meet. He really was just a gent," the man said.
"It's terrible and an absolute tragedy," he added.
A local woman said she had seen an ambulance at the house after 1pm and had been praying for Mr Byrne.
"When I heard the news on the radio, I feared the worst," she said.
"I saw the ambulance pull up there, so the man was in my prayers," she added.
News of the tragedy was only starting to trickle through the quiet community last night.
"It was just something I'd overheard, but I didn't know he was from around here.
"It's so sad to hear that," said a woman in the Suncroft village pub, The Well.
A family member was too distressed to speak when approached at Mr Byrne's home yesterday.
The family have requested privacy to grieve.
Meanwhile, tributes to the brave work of the paramedics Stephen Lloyd and David Finnegan have poured in from well-wishers.
TD James Lawless, who visited the hospital, said the paramedics and hospital staff should be commended for their response to the tragic accident in what was an "unprecedented situation".
"David is a very decent man, he is very involved in the campaign for Naas Community National School.
He is a family man and well liked by his colleagues," the local TD said.
Hospital staff had also acted with "great professionalism" to get the ward cleared in the aftermath, he added.