Northern Ireland village in shock over death of native son and his US family in Co Wexford crash
The nephew of a couple who lost their lives alongside their two sons in a horrific collision in Co Wexford has said the family are finding it hard to accept their loss.
Tyrone-born Dougie Alexander, his wife Lily, both 75, and their sons Steven (49) and Doug jnr (52) died when their car collided with an articulated lorry on the New Ross Road on Monday at around 6.30pm.
The family were making their way from Shannon Airport to the wake of Lily's sister Winnie Keevey.
All four died at the scene.
The Alexanders lived in Oaklawn, Chicago.
Building contractor Dougie - a well-known musician - was born and raised in Sion Mills. His wife was from Limerick.
Their children were born in America, but lived in Ireland sporadically over the years.
People in Sion Mills, where Dougie's brother and other family members still live, were in shock yesterday as they attempted to come to terms with the tragedy.
Dougie's nephew Billy Cochrane, who lives just over the border in Donegal, said that his cousin Debbie, the only surviving member of the Alexander family, was devastated by this most unthinkable of losses.
"The family were just the best of people," he said.
"They were very close, very family-orientated people.
"They were all very friendly, very nice people.
"I was called after my uncle Dougie. My middle name is Douglas.
"Steven and Doug jnr were just brilliant cousins, we were all very close.
"We are totally devastated.
"We just can't accept it at the minute.
"It just doesn't seem real.
"My uncle and aunt have a daughter Debbie who lives in America. She is the only one left now, God bless her.
"I was just in touch with the police department in Chicago - Steven was a policeman - because I couldn't get a number for Debbie.
"When I was talking to the police, it just didn't seem right to say that they were gone.
"It was a very strange feeling, particularly when it's four at the one time.
"You can lose a family member, you will grieve, but when four are lost, it's different.
"We lost our uncle Noel, Dougie's brother, last year, which was hard, but now four of them are gone in one day.
"It's hard to take in."
Dougie and Lily are to be cremated and their ashes flown back to America alongside the bodies of their sons after a memorial service in Co Wexford next week.
Billy will be travelling south in the coming days to help with the funeral arrangements.
"We have to wait and see about getting them repatriated," he said.
"We think there is a memorial service for the four of them on Monday in Wexford, but that has to be finalised.
"Dougie and Lily are being cremated here in Ireland and the two boys will be heading back to America along with their parents' ashes.
"There is obviously no good time for a tragedy to happen.
"But for it to happen coming up to Christmas, such a precious family time, is just totally and utterly devastating.
"They were a very, very close family.
"My cousin Debbie and Steven and Doug jnr's partners and the children are so close.
"This is such a terrible, terrible loss."
Local priest Fr Sean Devereux told RTE earlier this week: "The community is absolutely numbed by the tragedy and all that has unfolded.
"All we can really do, as a faith community, is offer support and to be with those who are bereaved and be with the Keevey family, who have had this tragedy impacted upon them as they were grieving the passing of their mother."