Belfast Telegraph

Priest (89) 'may have had heart attack' before crashing his car into mourners at Dublin funeral

By Robin Schiller

A retired priest may have suffered a heart attack before losing control of his car and crashing into a crowd of people outside a church in Dublin.

Several were left seriously injured and with broken bones after the car ploughed into mourners gathered for a funeral at the Immaculate Conception Church, Clondalkin, yesterday.

It is being probed if the driver of the white Toyota, Fr Denis Foley (89), became ill at the wheel before losing control.

The incident happened shortly after 10am.

Seven people, three women and four men, were seriously injured with one eyewitness describing the scene as being "littered" with casualties.

A number of off-duty firemen who were in attendance at the funeral also rushed to help several casualties following the incident.

A garda investigation is under way to determine the circumstances surrounding the crash, but at this stage it is being treated as a tragic accident.

The retired curate, who is understood to have ceased working as parish priest in Walkinstown some 13 years ago, was last night being treated in St James's Hospital.

A further six people suffered serious injuries, including broken bones, and were brought to different hospitals across the city.

Local sources said 64-year-old Martin Cawley, from the Kingswood area, suffered serious injuries to his legs and lungs during the incident.

A large fleet of emergency vehicles responded to the scene after receiving reports of a vehicle driving into a crowd of people.

The Dublin Fire Brigade dispatched 10 vehicles to the scene, while several garda units and senior officers attended the scene.

Larry Mooney, from Blackrock, Co Dublin, said he saw people desperately attempt to lift the car off a number of pedestrians who were caught underneath.

"It sounded like the church was actually collapsing, it was an unbelievable sound, and then I saw all of the people just rushing back," he said. "Then I discovered it was a car with all of the people packed underneath it.

"It was a hell of a shock. There were nearly 200 people standing outside the church when this all happened."

Another witness, Maureen McNulty, said the small roadway outside the church was "littered" with injured people following the collision. "I just said you're going to need a half dozen ambulances. It was so frightening," she said.

"There was one man caught underneath the car, and another caught at the front. There were people running everywhere."

Gardai cordoned off the scene and senior officers were present in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

The funeral service of popular local man David Breach, which was due to take place at the time of the incident, was delayed until 1pm yesterday.

During a homily, the parish priest said the communities prayers were with those injures, while thanking the emergency services for their work.

In a statement, from the Archdiocese of Dublin, the priests and parish of the parish of the Immaculate Conception in Clondalkin expressed their condolences to those injured.

Belfast Telegraph

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