Victim of mystery road death named locally as gardai probe incident

Members of the gardai divisional unit search on the Johnstown road following the incident (Pic: Herald/Damian Eagers)
Members of the gardai divisional unit search on the Johnstown road following the incident (Pic: Herald/Damian Eagers)

Gardai are investigating all the circumstances surrounding a mystery traffic collision which left a man dead after he suffered horrific injuries.

The victim was named locally yesterday as well-respected Arklow man Declan Kelly (49), who was hit by a car in the early hours of Monday morning close to his home in the Co Wicklow town.

Gardai have identified a suspect in the horrific case and have taken statements from the middle-aged local man who presented himself to officers around 40 minutes after the collision had occurred.

The man's Ford Mondeo car has been seized and has been the subject of detailed forensic examination.

There have been no arrests so far but officers are trawling through CCTV and phone records.

They have not yet ruled out the involvement of a second vehicle in the fatality.

A post-mortem examination carried out on Mr Kelly's body proved inconclusive and further examinations are due to take place today.

Gardai have been working on a number of different theories in relation to the fatal collision, including whether Mr Kelly's body had been moved from where he was originally struck by the car.

Mr Kelly's body was discovered by people passing through the Coolgreany road area in Arklow, shortly before 2.30am on Monday.

At around the same time, a local man presented himself to gardai in relation to the incident.

Yesterday morning, gardai began examining a second location, around 2km from where the victim's body was found.

Five members of the garda divisional search unit combed the trees and bushes at a cordoned-off scene on the outskirts of Arklow town, in a search for missing clothing items belonging to Mr Kelly.

The search concluded shortly after 5pm with "significant" items found by the investigation team.

Mr Kelly's family are said be "devestated" following his death.

Fianna Fáil councillor Tommy Annesley told the Irish Independent that he knew the family well, having grown up with many of them.

"I know the whole family, I was out at the house, they're all devastated," he said.

Mr Kelly lived just outside Arklow town with his father, Peter - who he had been taking care of since his mother died two years ago. His brother also tragically passed away a number of years ago.

Mr Kelly was described as "the glue that kept the family together".

"Declan looked after the father, he cooked the breakfast and that," Mr Annesley said.

The tragic victim set up his own business as a concrete groover.

His products helped prevent livestock from slipping on concrete surfaces and he was known throughout the farming community in Wicklow.

It is understood he was a prominent member of the Irish Cattle Foot Trimmers Association.

Local councillor Pat Fitzgerald said the whole area is in a state of shock. "It's a huge shock to learn of the tragedy," Cllr Fitzgerald said.

"Declan was a member of a very well-liked family, very well-known in farming circles too.

"I just want to offer my sympathy to his family and from speaking to many of his friends they are deeply shocked," he added.

Mr Kelly's family were last night being comforted by friends and family as they make preparations for his funeral.

Gardai are appealing for witnesses or anyone with information to contact them at Arklow garda station on 0402 26320 or any garda station.

Ken Foy/Ryan Nugent