Deaths of US family in New Ross crash ‘saddened whole country’

Funeral Mass takes place for four killed in Wexford collision while travelling to funeral

 

A couple who died in a collision in Co Wexford last week along with two of their adult sons, “lived the American dream” and tried to help others to realise their own, their funeral Mass has heard.

Lily Alexander (75), her husband Doug (75) and their sons, Doug jnr (52) and Steven (49), were killed when their rental car collided with a lorry on the N25 between Wexford and New Ross on the evening of December 4th.

Doug and Lily, natives of counties Tyrone and Limerick respectively, had travelled back from the US with their sons following the death of Ms Alexander’s sister, Winnie Keevey.

During the Mass at St Mary’s Church in Cushinstown, where the Alexanders had been due to attend Ms Keevey’s funeral the day after the fatal crash, Fr Seán Devereux extended sympathies on behalf of the parish, county and the State to their families.

“Gathering words for today has not been easy,” he said. “Trying all week to be some little support...has often made me stand back, asking why and wondering if this darkness will ever pass.”

Fr Devereux said that for the family a “journey to grieve a sister, sister-in-law, and aunt ended abruptly, stunning those close to Doug, Lily, Steve and Doug jnr”. He said that Doug and Lily – who met and married in the US after emigrating from Ireland – “lived the American dream”.

‘Generous to the end’

“They went to the US to build a life for themselves and through hard work they did this. But they also enjoyed life moments and your memories spoken about them over the past week tell of a couple who shared what they had with others. They were generous to the end,” Fr Devereux told the 300-strong crowd in the church.

“Four people with individual gifts that they did not box up and use only for themselves but shared with family, friends and with the community. They will live on as you remember their goodness, kindness and selflessness...So we are left with a legacy, shoulders to stand on, and an example to follow.”

Doug and Lily, who lived in the Chicago suburb of Oak Lawn, have a daughter, Debbie. Steven is survived by his partner Susan Schulze and daughters Trinity and Savannah. Doug jnr is survived by his wife Marian and daughters Katie and Abbey.

Lily’s nephew Ryan Prior said his aunt had “helped so many friends and family from Ireland move to the US to get on their own paths towards the American dream”.

‘Live every day as your last’

Sam Alexander, Doug’s nephew, said his uncle and Lily “brought life and enjoyment to everybody they came in contact with”. He said the couple would want mourners to enjoy a celebration of their lives and not be sad. “Live every day as your last because you know what? Some day it will be, you guys.”

Mr Prior said the family were extremely proud of Steven, a police officer who was also dedicated to helping the Special Olympic and Girl Scouts movements.

“He was a loving father to Trinity and Savannah and was so proud they both played ice hockey and learned Irish dancing,” he added. “We have shed a lot of tears in the last week and will do so for a long time, but it will all be completely outweighed by the beautiful memories we have of this beautiful and much loved, beautiful family.”

Grace Prior, Lily’s niece, said Doug jnr was always up for a laugh, describing him as a fantastic musician and a hard worker.

“The amount of time he travelled back to Ireland was a testament to how much he valued family, but also a good time. I think of the laughter and craic we all had together and that’s how I remember them,” she said.

Symbols of their lives including a banjo for Doug snr, a golf club for Lily, a police badge for Steven and a guitar for Doug jnr were brought to the altar.

After the Mass Doug snr and Lily were taken for cremation, while their sons’ remains are being flown back to Illinois, where they will be buried in a family plot, following services there.

U-turn

A U-turn is believed to have caused last Monday’s crash. It happened at about 6.30pm on a wide open stretch of the N25. All four were pronounced dead at the scene.

According to emergency personnel at the scene of the crash, it appeared the driver of the Alexander’s BMW 5 series rental car, which was travelling towards Wexford town, pulled left on to 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.