Garda sergeant killed after car hits Wicklow motorway barrier


A MOTORIST who died when his car hit a safety barrier at the side of a motorway in Co Wicklow was a well-known Garda sergeant with five children. He had just come off duty and was driving home when he apparently lost control of his vehicle.

The car of Garda Sgt Fergal McHugh (49) was involved in the single-car crash on the N11 near Newtownmountkennedy at 8am.

Garda sources said it was unclear what had caused the accident but that Garda Sgt McHugh’s car appeared to hit a safety barrier at the side of the road before it was then thrown across a stretch of the northbound carriageway at Kiladreenan between exit 12 and 13.

The road was sealed off for much of yesterday and Garda crash scene investigators examined the road and the car in an effort to determine how the crash occurred.

A postmortem should determine if Garda Sgt McHugh had any serious health problem.

The Irish Times understands at least one person driving in the area witnessed the crash and has already spoken to investigating gardaí in Bray. Gardaí have appealed for anyone else who may have seen the incident to come forward.

Soon after the crash, the emergency services were alerted and the road was closed. Garda Sgt McHugh was taken by ambulance to Loughlinstown hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A married man with five children, he was based at Arklow Garda station. Garda sources described him as a “very dedicated” member of the force.

He had just finished a shift in Arklow and was driving home to Delgany, Co Wicklow, when he was killed.

He had built his own house in the Willow Grove area of the town, had settled there with his family and was well known in the local community.

Originally from Bray, a number of people who knew him told The Irish Times he was “universally popular” and a generous and sociable person who was committed to his work in the force.

In one incident in 2008 that received media attention at the time, he and a colleague rescued a drowning man from the Avoca river while they were on duty.

Garda Sgt McHugh had been involved in recent years in the prosecution of criminals investigated for a range of offences including drugs, sexual assault and robbery.

As a sergeant in Arklow, he would have managed a team of rank-and-file gardaí.