A 13-year-old boy killed in a horrific car crash in Co Westmeath in the early hours of yesterday has been named locally as Joseph Anderson.
He was due to start secondary school in September.
Joseph was killed, and another teenage boy critically injured, when the car they and three other young pals were travelling in hit a tree before falling into a roadside drain near Delvin at around 2.15am.
Gardai are investigating if one of the boys took his mother's car and went out driving with friends in the early hours of the morning.
It is understood that they came across a high-visibility 4x4 garda armed support vehicle carrying two members of the regional Armed Support Unit.
They were signalled to stop by the officers but the young driver turned the car around and drove away.
The gardai, who were on anti-burglary and theft patrol targeting travelling criminals, did not go in pursuit but drove in the same direction.
There is no suggestion that the teenagers were engaged in any criminal activity.
The car, a Hyundai i10, turned down a side road, where the driver lost control and the vehicle hit a tree on a back road in the remote townland of Lisclougher.
The car crashed on a left-hand bend with a steep drop into a roadside drain. It crossed the drain and hit a tree before falling into it.
Members of the garda Armed Response Unit were on the scene quickly. Because they are trained paramedics they were able to treat the injured until the emergency services arrived.
It was not immediately clear who was driving the car due to the way it crashed.
The accident scene was around 1km from where the Hyundai had been seen by the garda. The unlit road is an area with no houses nearby, and is one of the many backroads between Athboy and Delvin.
Joseph, who was a passenger in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene and his body was removed to the mortuary at Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar.
The injured teenage boy was in a critical condition at the same hospital last night.
The three other boys in the car, all in their teens, received non-life threatening injuries but were said to be shaken and distressed.
Because the car had an interaction with gardai the matter was referred to An Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), which is also carrying out an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fatal crash.
A statement from the GSOC said the circumstances of the referral were on the basis that gardai had indicated for the vehicle to pull over, but it failed to stop and drove away from the officers.
Joseph was a pupil at Clonmellon primary school until it was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and had been due to begin his secondary education at Athboy Community College in September.
All the boys in the car, aged between 13 and 16, were friends from the Delvin-Athboy area on the Westmeath-Meath border.
The scene was preserved overnight pending a technical and forensic examination by both gardai and the GSOC.
At around 9.30am yesterday the crashed Hyundai was taken from the drain and loaded onto the back of a truck before being covered in a blue tarpaulin and removed to a garage outside Mullingar, where further examinations were due to take place.
The garda Armed Support Unit's Audi SUV was also removed on a low-loader truck as part of the investigation.
At the crash scene, some debris from the Hyundai could be seen deep in the drain, and a large gash on the bark of a tree at the roadside indicated where the vehicle impacted after it had travelled along the ditch before crossing the drain and falling into it.
Gloves and wrappings from medical equipment used by emergency service personnel could also be seen at the roadside.
Local Fianna Fail councillor Paddy Hill said people living in the area around Delvin were "shocked".
"They are a very well-known family in the area, and the young person that was injured is from the area as well," he said.
"All we can do is offer our deepest sympathy to all of those involved and particularly the family of the boy who passed away, and we hope the other young man will make a recovery.
"The community around Delvin is very strong and caring and I'm sure that they will rally around them as best they can over the next few very difficult days."
Gardai are appealing to anyone with information, particularly any motorists who may have dashcam footage of the area between 1.45 and 2.30am, to contact them at Mullingar Garda Station on 044 938 4000 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.