Bodies of four killed in Wexford crash released to relatives

U-turn believed to have caused crash that killed family visiting from US for funeral

 

The bodies of the four members of the Alexander family killed in a crash in Wexford on Monday evening have been released to relatives following the completion of post-mortems.

Wexford County Coroner, Dr Sean Nixon confirmed the bodies of husband and wife, Doug and Lily Alexander, who were in their mid 70s, and their two adult sons, Doug junior (52), a father of one, and father-of-two Steven (49), who was a US police officer, had been released.

It’s understood that relatives of the Alexander family are liaising with officials at the US Embassy in Dublin to arrange the repatriation of the bodies to US for a funeral service in Bolingbrook in Illinois.

A U-turn is believed to have caused Monday’s crash on the N25 New Ross to Wexford town road in which they died.

The family were from Oakland, near Chicago, though Mrs Alexander came originally from Limerick and was back in Ireland to attend the funeral of her Wexford-based sister, Winnie Keevey.

Mrs Keevey was buried on Tuesday afternoon after a funeral mass in St Mary’s Church in Cushinstown, not far from the crash site.

The crash happened at about 6.30pm on Monday on a wide open stretch of the N25. Leaving New Ross and travelling east, the road, which is modern and well-maintained, rises steeply before traversing undulating countryside and, at one point taking a broad sweep in a south-easterly direction above Cushinstown, clearly visible approximately three kilometres away.

The road is clearly marked and there are no obstructions to vision. Hard shoulders on either side are delineated by broken yellow lines and in the middle of the road, for a considerable distance, a central reservation area, approximately two metres wide, had been painted and drivers are not permitted, for safety reasons, to enter it.

Firefighters from New Ross and Wexford town attended the scene of the crash and used cutting equipment to remove the four victims from the car to allow paramedics attend to them. But all four were pronounced dead at the scene, and their bodies were later removed by ambulance to University Hospital Waterford in Ardkeen for postmortems.

According to emergency personnel at the scene of the crash yesterday, it appears the driver of the Alexander’s BMW 5 series rental car, which was travelling towards Wexford town, pulled left onto the hard shoulder and paused. It then made a sharp turn right, as if to make a U-turn back towards New Ross.

However, it was hit side on and with great force by an articulated lorry, which was also travelling in the direction of Wexford town. Both the car and lorry came to a standstill on the far side of the road, the car almost totally obliterated.

Why the driver of the car made this manoeuvre is unknown.

“Did he look over the wrong shoulder,” wondered a first responder on the scene yesterday, noting the driver would have been more used to driving on a different side of the road in the US?

“It’s impossible to know but it just doesn’t make sense.”

The driver of the truck, a man in his 40s and a passenger were physically uninjured in the collision but both were badly shaken and were treated for shock at the scene.

Gardaí are appealing for witnesses to contact New Ross Garda station on 051 426030, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any Garda station.

Steve Alexander had two daughters, aged 11 and 10. On Tuesday afternoon, his partner Susan Schulze paid tribute to him in a Facebook post.

“I can never express the happiness Steve gave me. He showed me true love. I am so blessed that to be a part of his life. I love you Steve and I will love you forever and a day.”

Mr Alexander’s colleagues in the Bolingbrook Police Department described him as a decorated officer who taught self-defence classes to women and girls.

He was with the Department for 17 years and was nominated as Police Officer of the Year in 2014 and 2015.

“Steve devoted his time to the community and taught self-defence classes and self-confidence skills to women and girl scouts at the Bolingbrook Park District,” Lieutenant. Anthony Columbus told The Irish Times. “He also enjoyed racing his vintage Camaro drag racing car and talking to children about vehicle and driving safety.

Mr Alexander was also involved in the Illinois Special Olympics.

Bolingbrook PD Director Ken Teppel said that Mr Alexander “was an exemplary officer who took great pride in his law enforcement career and who devoted himself to protecting and serving the citizens of Bolingbrook.

“Steve will be missed by all those who had the pleasure of knowing him and we will forever keep the Alexander family in our thoughts and our prayers.”