Community ‘stunned’ as tributes paid to ‘exemplary students’ killed in road crash

The stretch of N69 road was closed well into Wednesday after the fatal road crash. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

TRIBUTES have been paid to two young men killed and two others injured in a horrific road traffic collision in County Limerick on Tuesday night (February 20).

The four young men, aged in their early 20s, had been travelling in a car that struck a wall on the N69 at Ballyengland, near Askeaton, at around 7.25pm on Tuesday night.

All four had been studying for an agricultural course run by the Technical University of the Shannon (TUS) and Salesian Agricultural College, Pallaskenry, and were boarding at the Salesian College.

Two of the men, one from County Cork and one from County Kilkenny, who were passengers in the car, were killed in the impact.

The driver and a third passenger, who are from County Cork and County Offaly, were rushed by ambulance from the scene to University Hospital Limerick, where they were being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

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The four young men had been in their final year of their two-year course in agricultural mechanisation, where they were gaining qualifications for working with farm machinery.

Speaking to the Limerick Post, Salesian College principal Derek O’Donoghue said that he “would like to send my condolences to the families of the two students that have tragically lost their lives, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and their friends and classmates. I also wish the two students who are in hospital a speedy recovery.”

Mr O’Donoghue said the four men returned to reside at the Pallaskenry college in January after a work placement, “so they are really just five weeks back here in college and are in the final year of their programme”.

“It’s very unfortunate, they are all in their 20s and all second year students, they were studying the higher cert in agricultural mechanisation.”

Paying tribute, the school principal described the four men as “exemplary students, hard working, diligent, and all had really good careers ahead of them. Two still have obviously, but unfortunately two lives have been cut very, very short”.

Mr O’Donoghue said staff from TUS were providing counselling and other psychological supports on the ground to the young men’s fellow students.

“The four occupants of the car were all on the same course together and they were all residential students here in Pallaskenry. It’s a much tighter knit community of students than the day students, because not alone are they in college together during the day, they are together by night.”

There are approximately 200 students, including 65 boarders, from all over the country attending the college in Pallaskenry.

Local Fine Gael councillor Adam Teskey also offered his sympathies to the four men’s families, saying that the local community was left “absolutely stunned” and “in a total state of shock after this immense tragedy”.

“Two families have suffered the ultimate loss of life and for that I want to express my sincere sympathies to them.”

The local councillor described the stretch of the N69 as “a dangerous road that is no stranger to fatal road collisions”.

Gardaí said the bodies of the deceased were removed from the scene to the mortuary at University Hospital Limerick for post-mortem examinations.

The road was closed throughout Tuesday night and into Wednesday, allowing Gardaí attached to the forensic collision investigation unit to conduct technical examinations at the scene.

Gardaí appealed for witnesses and any road users with “camera footage (including dashcam) and who were travelling in the area at the time to make this footage available to Gardaí”.

Anyone with any information useful to the investigation is asked to contact Askeaton Garda Station 061 601 630 or any Garda station.