Man dies and boys hurt as garda chase ends in horrific crash at school
Two boys were left with horrific injuries and a man was killed when the car he was driving smashed through a barrier and hit a wall as it was being followed by a garda patrol car.
The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is reviewing the circumstances of the horrific accident in Wexford town which happened shortly before 1am yesterday.
The boys, named locally as brothers Craig (13) and Kevin Banville (15) from Taghmon, were being treated at Wexford General Hospital last night for serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
The man who was killed has been named as father-of-two Danny Barnes (24) who was known to gardai for minor drugs offences.
The silver VW Bora ploughed into a wall and railings on White Mill Road, Wexford, only a minute after gardai started following the vehicle, believing the occupants were acting in a suspicious manner.
The accident happened just metres from the entrance to Kennedy Park School and its wall was damaged in the accident.
The tragedy unfolded when gardai in a marked patrol car drove by and noticed a car with three people in it parked outside a pub on Lower John Street in the town.
The officers did a U-turn to speak to the occupants but the car drove off at high speed.
The patrol car followed but before it caught up with the fleeing car, officers came across the stricken vehicle crashed into the wall.
"No sirens were activated in the course of this incident but the garda patrol car did activate its blue flashing lights," a source said last night.
Mr Barnes was pronounced dead at the scene as paramedics were unable to stabilise his condition for transfer to the nearby hospital where the two teenagers were being treated last night.
He had sustained fatal head and chest injuries.
The young man was known to gardai primarily for his involvement in cannabis herb.
In September 2014, he was ordered to do 50 hours of community service in lieu of two months in prison after pleading guilty to possession of drugs for sale or supply, the cultivation of cannabis plants and other drug possession offences at Wexford District Court.
In September 2016, Mr Barnes was fined €500 for possession of cannabis herb and was due before the local court again in May for an unlawful possession of cannabis charge.
"Danny Barnes was known to gardai but he was certainly no criminal," the source said.
"His criminal convictions are mainly for minor drug offences."
Mr Barnes worked in the construction industry in the south-east.
In accordance with protocol, Wexford gardai have referred the matter to the GSOC.
It is believed that Mr Barnes lost control of the car before it ploughed into the wall and railings.
The force of the collision resulted in the entire front section of the vehicle being crushed.
Wexford gardai have appealed to anyone who witnessed the crash or the car's movements in the hours before the accident to contact them.
Local Sinn Fein councillor Tom Forde paid tribute to Mr Barnes and expressed his sympathies to the family.
"I didn't know Danny personally, but I knew the family - his father and brother," he said.
"My thoughts are with his family at his time.
"He was a very popular young lad in the area, and came from a very well-respected family.
"His father works with the local boxing club and they are very much involved with the local community. It's a terrible tragedy."
A woman who lives near the scene of the fatal crash said her husband was woken up by a loud bang.
She also described seeing a large number of emergency personnel attending the incident.
"The bang woke my husband up - he thought it was thunder," she said.
"The lights from the emergency vehicles then woke me up.
"I looked out and saw the flashing lights. I thought 'Oh, God'.
"There were at least two ambulances, two fire engines and a number of emergency cars around as well.
"The car went through the barrier, it was stuck in the wall.
"They must have been going at some speed.
"I didn't know anyone in the car, but it's awful."