Tuesday 19 February 2019

Retired priest at wheel as car struck mourners critically ill in hospital

Emergency services at the crash scene on Monday
Emergency services at the crash scene on Monday

An elderly priest who was the driver of a vehicle that ploughed into a group of mourners at a Dublin funeral remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Fr Denis Foley (89) is one of two people being treated for critical injuries following the serious collision in Clondalkin on Monday morning.

The retired curate, who is understood to have ceased working as parish priest in Walkinstown some 13 years ago, was receiving treatment in St James's Hospital last night.

In total, 13 people were injured when a white Toyota vehicle struck a large group of people who had gathered outside the Immaculate Conception Church.


Gardai are investigating whether Fr Foley lost control of the vehicle moments before the incident, which is being treated as an accident.

A 79-year-old man from the Kingswood area also remains in critical condition, while several other people were hospitalised with broken bones.

Gardai yesterday confirmed that an investigation into the incident was continuing.

Officers based at Clondalkin held a case conference on Monday afternoon in relation to the ongoing garda inquiry.

In total, seven people - three women and four men - were taken to different hospitals across the city as emergency services dealt with the large-scale incident. A further six were cared for at the scene with minor injuries.

One witness described how Olympic gold medallist Michael Carruth, who was among the mourners, jumped out of the way of the vehicle.

Larry Mooney, from Blackrock, Co Dublin, also said that he saw people desperately attempt to lift the white Toyota vehicle off a number of pedestrians who were caught underneath.

"It sounded like the church was actually collapsing. It was an unbelievable sound, and then I saw all of the people just rushing back.

"Now it was only about 20 feet away from where I was standing but as I say it was packed with people. And then I discovered it was a car with all of the people packed underneath it," he told the Herald.

"One of the people I saw there was Michael Carruth and he had to jump out of the way. He was a very close witness, but nothing happened to him.

"There was also a man there who broke his thumb as well, a number of people were very seriously injured.

"[It was a] hell of a shock. You wouldn't expect it at a funeral.

"There were nearly 200 people standing outside the church when this all happened," Mr Mooney added.

Another witness, Maureen McNulty, said that the small roadway outside the church was "littered" with injured people following the collision.


"I just said you're going to need a half dozen ambulances. It was so frightening," she said.

"There was one man caught underneath the car, and another caught at the front. A lot of men tried to lift the car off him and couldn't do it, so they had to let car back down again.

"There were people running everywhere. The driver sort of fell in the passenger seat, and then there were people looking after him. There were a lot of people just slightly injured, but in terrible shock," she added.

In total, the Dublin Fire Brigade dispatched 10 vehicles to the scene including four fire engines, four ambulances and a rescue tender.

A district officer and an advanced paramedic vehicle also attended the scene, with a DFB spokesman saying that 13 people were treated, with eight injured.

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