Driver in fatal collision in Galway had history of mental health issues

Jonasz Lach, who died along with family of three, was facing dangerous driving charges

Mr Lach drove at speed on the wrong side of the M6 motorway before colliding head-on with another car. Photograph: Press 22

Mr Lach drove at speed on the wrong side of the M6 motorway before colliding head-on with another car. Photograph: Press 22

 

The man who fatally collided with a family of three in Galway last week, while driving the wrong way on the motorway, had suffered from serious mental illness in the past and was facing dangerous driving charges.

Gardaí are still trying to establish what caused Jonasz Lach (42) to drive the wrong way up the M6 at speeds of up to 120km/h before the crash.

Mr Lach was the sole occupant of a vehicle when it collided head-on with a car carrying Karzan Sabah Ahmed, his wife Shahen Qasm and their eight-month-old daughter Lina.

All four people were killed instantly in the crash which occurred at about 7.40pm on Thursday on the M6 motorway at Poolboy, Ballinasloe.

Another motorist travelling in the opposite direction suffered non-life-threatening injuries after their vehicle was hit by debris from the crash.

Gardaí had initially considered whether Mr Lach had become confused or had lost control of the car, leading him to enter the motorway on the wrong side.

However, evidence suggests that, apart from travelling in the wrong direction, he appeared to be in control of the car and aware that he was driving dangerously.

Slip road

Mr Lach is believed to have entered the motorway on the wrong side via a slip road before driving for between one and two kilometres, while flashing his lights at oncoming motorists.

Suicide or a psychotic incident of some sort are currently the main theories behind his motivation.

Gardaí are continuing to interview family and friends of Mr Lach in an effort to establish his frame of mind at the time. Investigators have been told Mr Lach had been known to suffer from manic episodes.

Mr Lach was originally from Poland but living in Fisherman’s Wharf, in Portumna, Co Galway where he worked in a supermarket. The married father of two was remembered locally as a keen fisherman and musician.

He had been living in Ireland for about 15 years, including for several years in Ballinasloe.

According to informed sources, he had suffered several severe mental health episodes in recent years, leading to contact with the Garda and the HSE. It is understood that following one incident he spent time at an in-patient facility.

Mr Lach had been due to appear at Blanchardstown District Court on several counts of dangerous driving relating to a recent incident on the M50 in Dublin. He also had one conviction for possession of cannabis.

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