Top amateur cyclist Paul Healion killed in car crash
One of the Ireland's top amateur cyclists has been killed in a car crash just days before he was due to take on Lance Armstrong.
Paul Healion (31) was alone in his car when it crashed in Ardee, Co Louth, on Sunday night before bursting into flames. Mr Healion was pronounced dead at the scene. No other vehicle was involved.
The cyclist was a prominent member of the Irish national team. He was due to ride the Tour of Ireland next weekend as part of the Irish squad, competing against seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and his Astana team.
Mr Healion, a member of South Dublin Cycling Club, was from Dunboyne in Co Meath. The accident occurred at about 10.30pm on Sunday in an area of Ardee called Glack.
Officers said the car appeared to have lost control, struck a tree and burst into flames.
A post-mortem was carried out on Mr Healion yesterday and the scene was examined by specialist Garda forensic collision experts.
Mr Healion, who is survived by his wife Ann, was having the best cycling season of his career and had hopes of competing at the next Olympic Games.
Mr Healion won the Irish Criterium championship in June, eight years after first taking the title in 2001, and was due to defend his national time-trial champion's title next month. He was also Irish time-trial champion in 2000 and was national elite-track pursuit champion in 2004.
The director of the Cycling Ireland high performance unit, Philip Leigh, said Mr Healion was a “dedicated, gifted professional”, adding: “Our thoughts are with Paul's family, particularly his wife.
“Paul was an integral part of our team and we're struggling to come to terms with the loss. I spoke with him last week and he was in top spirits — training well and looking at London 2012 with a view to competing.”