Teenage girl (16) killed in Cork crash named as Kimberly O’Connor

Car driven by 16-year-old boy hit wall in Knocknaheeney on city’s northside

Kimberly O’Connor (16) who was killed in car crash on Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork city.

Kimberly O’Connor (16) who was killed in car crash on Harbour View Road, Knocknaheeny, Cork city.

 

The family of a 16-year-old girl killed in a car crash near their home in Cork city on Wednesday night, have spoken of their loss and devastation as they recalled their daughter and sister.

Kimberly O’Connor from Harbour View Road in Knocknaheeny on Cork’s northside was killed when the car in which she was a front seat passenger crashed into a wall on Harbour View Road.

A back seat passenger in the car, an 18-year-old local youth was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital where he remains in a critical condition in an induced coma in intensive care.

And the driver of the car, a 16-year old-boy, who left the scene but later presented at the Mercy University Hospital, is now being treated in hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Kimberly was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. It is less than 50 yards from her home on Harbour View Road where she lived with her mother, Jennifer and other family members.

‘Lives shattered’

On Thursday, Kimberly’s mother, Jennifer Haynes, issued a statement on behalf of herself and her other children including Kimberly’s older sisters, Shannon and Britney.

“Our hearts are broken today at the loss of our beautiful daughter, sister, granddaughter, aunt, niece and friend Kimberly O’Connor,” said Ms Haynes who recently gave birth to a baby boy.

“Our lives are shattered today and it is difficult to put into words how we are feeling,” she added, before recalling her daughter’s kindness and generosity and how she was loved by everyone.

Ms Haynes recalled that, just last month, Kimberly had gone to Kolkata along with four other pupils and two teachers from Terence MacSwiney Community College to work with the Hope Foundation.

“She had just returned from Kolkata in January – she had gone there with her school to work with the Hope Foundation and participate in the Hope You Can Paint Project painting local orphanages.

“And she was also involved in an exchange programme with Cooperation Ireland visiting Belfast and engaging in cross-border projects and relationships working with students in the north of Ireland.”

Ms Haynes said her daughter had a great interest in drama and singing, having played the lead role in two musicals at Terence MacSwiney Community College and hoped to make a career in drama.

“Our Kimberly had a bright future and was very talented and a great career lay ahead of her – she was a very kind and generous person who was loved by so many people,” she said.

Thanks

Ms Haynes thanked family members, friends and neighbours as well as Kimberly’s teachers at Terence MacSwiney Community College and local parish priest, Fr Greg Howard for their support.

She also thanked the gardaí at nearby Gurranebraher Garda station and the local community in Knocknaheeney for their sympathy and support.

“We pray for those who are injured and thank the emergency services for attending the accident last night and ask for all your prayers at this very sad time,” she said.

Local Fianna Fail Cllr Tony Fitzgerald said the tragedy had shocked everyone in Knocknaheeny with many only learning about what happened when they woke up on Thursday morning.

“The accident happened late last night but I don’t think people heard about it until early morning – people are in shock and deeply sad – there’s a huge sense of loss and mourning in the community.

“It happened right near the roundabout in the middle of Knocknaheeny and to see a young life like this, a talented young girl taken from us, there’s just devastation at the loss of such a young life.

“Everyone who knew Kimberly through the school and the youth centre is numb today and then there’s huge concern for two lads who were in the car with her that they will make a recovery.”

School

Principal at Terence MacSwiney Community College, Phil O’Flynn spoke of her sense of shock at the death of Kimberly, whom she described as, “one of the school’s bright lights”.

“She was a very bright light in the school, full of talent and energy – she was involved in Co-operation Ireland and she went to Kolkata last month to work with the Hope Foundation.

“And she was also full of fun and full of mischief and she had an absolutely extraordinary acting talent – she had played the lead in a number of our school musicals over the last two years.

“Only yesterday our musical director, Ciaran Bermingham was speaking about the upcoming play and he said ‘Look Phil, she has such a talent I am going to make sure she goes all the way’.”

Ms O’Flynn said that although the school was closed for mid-term, they re-opened on Thursday to provide support for Kimberly’s many friends.

“We opened today because the students came into day looking for a bit of solace, just to talk to us and we are open again tomorrow for students to come in for counselling and guidance and advice.

“Everyone was coming in because it was just outside the school so we had a lot of visitors today and a lot of grief because Kimberly was always contributing to so many aspects of school life.”

Ms O’Flynn said that people’s thoughts were also with the driver of the car who is also a pupil at the school and the back seat passenger who is a past pupil.

Appeal

Meanwhile, gardaí have appealed to anyone who may have witnessed the collision or have any information that can assist them to contact Gurranebraher Garda station on 021-4946200.

Gardaí believe the driver of the car may have only bought the 19-year-old Seat Toledo in recent weeks and they are trying to trace its movements prior to the crash just before midnight.

They are investigating whether it came down Court Town Drive and hit the roundabout at the junction with Harbour View Road before demolishing nearby pedestrian traffic lights and crashing.

They are keen to speak to any road users who were travelling Harbour View Road between 11pm on February 19th and 12.30am on February 20th and may have camera footage.

The scene of Wednesday’s night’s collision is not far from the scene of a fatal crash ten years ago when two teenagers were killed after their car smashed into a house trying to flee another car.

CJ Dolan (16) and Derry O’Callaghan (19) were killed when the car in which they were travelling was rammed by another car before crashing into a house on Harbour View Road in May 2010.

Fatalities

Wednesday night’s crash is the third such fatal collision in Cork in the space of three days and follows two separate fatal collisions on both Monday and Tuesday in which men lost their lives.

The first fatal collision happened around 1pm on Monday afternoon when a foreign national in his 40s died after being struck by a truck on the Kinsale Road not far from Cork Airport.

The man, who was living in the Lehanaghmore area, was driving on the Kinsale Road some 500 yards beyond Cork Airport when he crashed into the ditch but managed to get out of his car.

The man was walking back towards Cork Airport around some dangerous bends when he was struck by a truck. He was taken by ambulance to Cork University Hospital but died a short time later.

On Tuesday night, a 52-year-old Polish man living in Carrigaline was killed when his car was in collision with a car driven by a 19 year old man from Limerick on the main Cork-Limerick Road.

The collision happened on bends near Ballybeg quarry outside Buttevant just before 11pm as the man from Limerick and two friends were returning from attending a match in Cork to Limerick.

The Polish national, who was heading home towards Carrigaline and Cork, was pronounced dead at the scene while the three teenagers from Moyross in Limerick escaped with minor injuries.