Man struck by speeding car in busy cemetery near Dundalk
People jumped behind gravestones and ran for their lives after a car was driven at speed through a packed Co Louth graveyard, seriously injuring one man.
Gardai arrested a man in his late 20s, believed to be the driver of the car, at the scene.
Parish priest Fr Mark O'Hagan was officiating at the annual blessing of the graves at St Patrick's Cemetery, Dowdallshill, Dundalk when the chaos unfolded at around 3.40pm yesterday.
"I was on the podium and it was near the end of the service when I heard screaming and shouting," he said. "I looked to my left and could see people running and screaming."
Fr O'Hagan rang gardai telling them "there is a mad man in the graveyard flying through at speed".
He said the car flew past him and into the car park where it struck a number of cars before trying to head back down the way it had come.
Fr O'Hagan said he put his hand out as if to try and stop it and the car then tried to mount the kerb towards him and he ran out of the way. He said he shouted at people to get off the footpath and had it announced through the public address system that a man had been struck and people should get off the footpath.
"It was a worst nightmare, it was just frightful," he added.
Gardai said one man was seriously injured and several more people suffered superficial injuries. The injured grandfather is understood to have struck his head when he fell to the ground.
He was taken by ambulance to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. His injuries are not thought to have been life-threatening and he was said to be conscious and talking before being brought from the graveyard.
One woman, who did not want her name used, said: "No one knew what was happening. I heard the sound of the car speeding and heard a bang and smoke rising. I heard what sounded like a car reversing and going back again. I jumped in between two headstones to be out of the way."
She believed the car used had been earlier driven into the graveyard and parked. Sometime later a man was seen getting into it. The car then reversed and struck a man.
Another woman there said: "He drove towards where we were. I jumped out of the way. People were jumping out of the way all over the place.
"It was driven at speed past where the priests were and it went out then and hit cars in the car park.
"Someone said there was a girl playing in the footpath a minute before it all happened. I am shaking.
"People were crying and shouting with the shock of it all," she added.
Darren from Dundalk, who declined to give his second name, said: "There was some dispute with people asking him to leave. He refused and started shouting when some old lady came over and spoke to him.
"He then went back into the car and started hitting his hands on the steering wheel.
"Then he started it and began spinning the wheels before driving into the crowd.
"He eventually left the graveyard and crashed."