Gardaí believe the three men killed in a head-on crash with a truck while driving the wrong way on the N7 in Rathcoole, Co Dublin, were friends who came to the attention of gardaí late on Wednesday night when the BMW they were in was being driven with the lights off.
The men died when their BMW crashed head-on into a truck on the N7 at about 11.40pm. The impact resulted in the men’s deaths and their BMW bursting into flames. The driver of the lorry was taken to University Hospital Tallaght for treatment where his injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening.
The results of DNA testing were awaited before a formal identification could be made, though gardaí believed they already know who the men are. Gardaí have begun contacting the men’s families to take DNA samples to crosscheck with the remains. Postmortems on the remains have also begun.
The Irish Times is not publishing the names of the dead men at this time but the men gardaí believed were killed are in their mid-20s to early 30s and are originally from Tallaght, Dublin. One of the men was once banned from driving for decades after taking gardaí on a high-speed chase on the wrong side of the road. That man had over 100 previous convictions.
Another of the men had over 60 convictions and had recently served a prison term for an aggravated burglary during which an elderly woman was threatened. He was caught for that crime after a Garda chase. The third man was a member of a well-known burglary gang that carried out organised burglaries across the Republic.
The partner of one of the men posted a tribute to him on social media, saying: “This is all a nightmare. There is no such thing as God. I’ll never forget you I promise. I love you so, so much.”
Gardaí said the crash happened at about 11.40pm on the N7, between Citywest and Baldonnell. The BMW was spotted being driven erratically, and with the lights off, late on Wednesday night.
The driver appears to have seen the Garda car and decided to flee, followed by gardaí. However, when the car was driven down the N7, the wrong way on the in-bound carriageway, the gardaí did not follow. Detectives suspect whoever was driving the BMW deliberately drove onto the wrong carriageway as he knew gardaí would not pursue in those circumstances.
Gardaí said they were especially keen to speak to anyone who saw a dark-blue BMW 3 Series vehicle, registration 06-D-47768, in the areas of Belgard, Citywest or the N7 any time after approximately 11.15pm.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) is also carrying out an investigation as it is obliged to do in any case involving death to any person around the time they have dealings with the Garda.
Mayor of South Dublin County Council Peter Kavanagh said the fatal incident was a “huge tragedy” for people to wake up to, with a lot of families affected. “It is a terrible tragedy whenever we lose lives on our roads. My thoughts are with the injured truck driver and his family and I hope he makes a full recovery,” he said. Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said his thoughts were with the injured driver.