Two children die, one woman injured in Co Westmeath car fire

Gardaí hopeful woman will be able to provide information on how the blaze began

A Garda road closure close to the scene near Aclint Bridge in Ardee, Co Louth, after three women were killed and two men seriously injured in a road accident involving three cars. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday July 21, 2017. Gardai said one woman, aged 39, was driving one of the cars, and the two other women, aged 69 and 37, were passengers. See PA story ACCIDENT Deaths Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Gardaí are hopeful a woman seriously injured in a car fire that claimed the lives of two children on Friday will be able to provide information about how the blaze began on a rural Co Westmeath road.

The children, an infant boy and a young girl, were siblings and the woman who was injured is believed to be their mother. It is understood the family is from the area of Multyfarnham, where the fire occurred.

Gardaí and other emergency services were alerted to a car on fire on the Coole Road at Lackan near Multyfarnham on Friday afternoon. When they arrived on the scene at about 4pm, the car was ablaze.

The woman was treated at the scene for burn injuries airlifted to a Dublin hospital to be treated. Her injures are understood to be serious but not thought to be life-threatening. The boy was taken by ambulance to the Midland Regional Hospital, Mullingar, where he was pronounced dead. The remains of the girl, who was of primary school age, were found inside the car.


It was unclear when the injured woman may be well enough to speak to gardaí, but detectives are hopeful she can aid the inquiry in providing information about how the car fire began. Members of the Garda Technical Bureau were at the scene on Friday night beginning an examination, while the vehicle was also taken from the scene for examination. The Irish Times understands people driving in the area happened upon the car on fire and raised the alarm. Initial investigations suggest the vehicle had not been crashed.

State Pathologist Sally Anne Collis arrived at the scene on Friday evening and carried out a preliminary examination of the girl’s remains where they were found. Ms Collis was due to carry out postmortems on the remains of the two children at Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, on Saturday.

Garda sources said the outcome of those postmortems, and evidence gathered during the technical examinations of the scene and the vehicle, would help determine the direction of the inquiry. The fire and the deaths of the children were being treated as unexplained on Friday night but all of the resources of a criminal investigation had been committed to the case. An incident room has been established at Mullingar Garda station and a senior investigating officer has been appointed to lead the investigation.

A Garda family liaison officer has been appointed and the Garda said it will continue to support the family involved in conjunction with other State agencies.

“This is a live incident and no further information is available at this time,” a garda spokesman said.

Speaking on The Late Late Show on Friday, President Michael D. Higgins described the death of a toddler and a young girl in Westmeath as “unspeakable”.

Sinn Féin TD for Longford-Westmeath Sorca Clarke described the fatal fire as “desperately sad”. In a post on Twitter, Ms Clarke offered her “thoughts and deepest sympathies with the family, friends and loved ones” as well as the emergency services who attended at the scene.

Green Party Cllr for Westmeath Hazel Smyth said the incident was “terribly sad” and offered her sympathies to those affected.

Gardaí are appealing to anyone with any information to contact Mullingar Garda station at 044-9384000, the Garda Confidential Line 180066611 or any Garda station.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times