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Tragic Tommy on verge of new life

Tributes for Derry dad killed in border police car chase

By William Allen, Brendan McDaid and Clare Weir

A Londonderry man who was mown down at a fruit and veg stall during a police car chase was on the verge of starting a new life with his family in Co Donegal, it emerged today.

As tributes poured in after the death of Tommy Long (46), from the Carnhill estate in Derry, a priest said the devastated family had been looking forward to moving home.

The father-of-two, who worked in a popular roadside farm shop, died after being struck by a Vauxhall Corsa being chased by Garda around 10am yesterday.

Two probes - one by the Garda Ombudsman - were today under way after the incident at a layby in Bridgend close to the Donegal border on the main Derry to Buncrana road.

As occupants of the vehicle fled the scene, one man - who is also from Derry - was arrested and has now been released on bail.

As the car reached the border, Mr Long was hit and fatally injured as he tended his stall. The road was then sealed off all day as the Garda and PSNI launched investigations, leading to major congestion.

The collision occurred yards into the Derry side of the border, though it is believed the man was arrested in the Republic.

A Garda spokeswoman said he was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving.

Father Paddy Baker, administrator of St Brigid's Church in Carnhill, said the dead man's family was devastated - and that they had been planning a move away.

He gave the last rites to Mr Long, whose children Thomas and Melissa are in their early 20s.

"The family are very distressed, just numb with shock," he said.

"They were in the process of buying a house over the border and making the move to Donegal.

"It would be a terrible tragedy at any time, but this seems to make it all the more sad.

"He and his wife Martina were married almost 23 years. He was very well-known in the parish, very much a family man and a popular figure. Many people knew him from the farm shop or just in the local community."

Fr Baker said that funeral arrangements would be known following a post-mortem examination on Mr Long's body in Belfast today.

Speaking at the scene, a local woman who works nearby said everybody was stunned by what had happened.

The woman, who asked not to be named, said: "It is absolutely awful. It's just unreal, someone out to do a day's work and it ends up like this.

"There have been so many deaths along here and someone has to do something to stop it happening."

Another woman said the white car was being chased by a Garda car and motorcyclist.

A spokeswoman for the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission said that it was looking into the incident.

"The fatality involved a car which had crossed the border into Northern Ireland from Co Donegal in an apparent attempt to evade the Garda Síochána who were seeking to speak with the driver in relation to his driving behaviour," she said.

"The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has commenced an investigation. "

A PSNI spokesman confirmed: "A man has died following a road collision near Derry. The incident happened around 10am on Thursday July 12."

Belfast Telegraph

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