Horror crash survivor (16) sent text message looking for help as three friends are killed after leaving 21st birthday party
THREE young people were killed after a car smashed through a heavy metal road sign as they drove to an all-night service station after a 21st birthday party.
Martin Brophy (20) was among three people who died when he lost control of his car.
Mother-of-one Angela Kelly (35) and Orla Curry (20) also lost their lives in the accident at Middlemount, some 5km from Rathdowney, Co Laois.
Both women, one in the front passenger seat and the other in the rear of the car, were pronounced dead before they could be transferred to Tullamore General Hospital.
Angela's nephew Jamie (16), a back-seat passenger in the car, suffered serious injures and was rushed to Tullamore General Hospital. His condition was described as stable last night.
His condition is described as stable and his injuries are not life-threatening.
Angela's nephew, Jamie (16), a back-seat passenger in the car, suffered serious injures and was rushed to Tullamore General Hospital.
Local parish priest Fr Delaney said the teenager was able to send a message of distress from inside the stricken vehicle.
"The young chap had a miraculous escape. He was able to text a message of help from inside the car. He got out and went across the road and raised the alarm."
The accident occurred shortly after 3am at Middlemount on the Abbeyleix-Rathdowney Road.
It is believed the young man lost control of his car and was unable to prevent it smashing into the road sign.
He was killed instantly such was the force of the impact There was no other vehicle involved.
His death is the second tragedy for his family in less than two years as Martin's mother died from cancer on St Stephen's Day in 2013.
"Some, if not all, of them had been at a 21st earlier in the evening, but it is understood that they had returned home, and then regrouped to drive to an all-night service station," one local told the Herald.
"It's a relatively new station in the area, so it's still a bit of a novelty for young people to go there. It's not believed that they went directly from the 21st to the station.
"Angela had a beautiful daughter and she's left without her mother."
Fr Martin Delaney paid tribute to the "incredible work" of the gardai and fire service who did absolutely everything possible at the scene.
"Young people have been gathering in groups around the town all day," he said.
"Everyone is lost for words and they're doing their best to support each other. It's a very close-knit community around here. There's a primary and secondary school in the town, and a lot of the young people grew up together before going to that school.
"It's brought a terrible air of sadness to the area," he added.
Garda accident scene investigators started a detailed examination of the road in a bid to piece together what caused the tragedy.
All three deceased were later transferred to the morgue at Portlaoise General Hospital for post-mortem examinations.
Floral tributes were laid at the scene of the accident by devastated friends yesterday.
Local councillor John King said it was a "black day" for the county.
"Stretches of that road are very windy and there was a young man who died not far from there a couple of years back in another accident," he added.
"My deepest sympathies go out to the families of those involved in this terrible tragedy. Everyone has been left deeply shocked."