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last rites ‘Very harrowing’ – priest at scene after driver (12) is killed in head-on Limerick car crash

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The scene of the crash between a car and a truck in which a 12-year-old boy died in the early hours of yesterday on the N21 at Rineroe near Adare, Co Limerick. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

The scene of the crash between a car and a truck in which a 12-year-old boy died in the early hours of yesterday on the N21 at Rineroe near Adare, Co Limerick. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

The scene of the crash between a car and a truck in which a 12-year-old boy died in the early hours of yesterday on the N21 at Rineroe near Adare, Co Limerick. Photo: Liam Burke/Press 22

A priest who gave the last rites to a 12-year-old boy killed in a head-on collision with a truck said everyone was deeply moved by the courage and dignity of his family.

Wiktor Chojecki, who would have turned 13 in a few weeks’ time, died at the scene of the collision between a car and a truck outside Adare, Co Limerick, shortly before 2am yesterday.

He was a first-year student at Scoil Mhuire agus Íde and lived with his family in Newcastle West.

He was the driver and only occupant of a Nissan Qashqai that was in a head-on collision with the truck on the N21 at Rineroe, near Adare.

Gardaí believe he took the car earlier in the night while other family members were asleep.

While the driver of the truck, aged in his 40s, was treated for shock, he was not injured.

Monsignor Daniel Neenan said he found the scene “very harrowing” as he tried to comfort the boy’s parents, Ewa and Bartosz.

Monsignor Neenan said everyone was deeply moved by the courage of the Polish family, who set aside their grief to personally thank gardaí, Limerick Fire Brigade and paramedics at the scene for doing everything they could for their son and for showing them such sensitivity.

“I got a call around 4am to say that there was a fatal accident on the outskirts of Adare and could I attend,” Msgr Neenan said. “Of course, I went straight away, and when I arrived they warned me that the person was very young.

“I anointed him and said some prayers over him. He’s just a child.

“It was obviously terribly harrowing for everybody. The guards and emergency responders are accustomed to something like this, but they were all just in shock.

“There was such terrible sadness around the place.

“At the end, that young mother who had just lost her son, before she left, she went around and personally thanked people for their kindness. I was deeply, deeply touched by that.

“To see a man and woman arrive and have to face the body of their dead 12-year-old son, it was harrowing.

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“We gave them some moments of privacy and then I went over. I spoke to them and we prayed – I invited them to pray in Polish as well.”

Msgr Neenan said he had always “hoped and prayed” that such a tragedy “would not come to our door”, but called on the local community, particularly Polish people in Co Limerick, to rally around the Chojecki family.

They had moved to the Newcastle West area several years ago.

Seán Lane, the principal of Scoil Mhuire agus Íde, said everyone was stunned by the news.

“It’s very shocking. We had to break the news to the students this morning,” he said.

“Our teachers had to be briefed and then they went on to break the news to the students. It was very shocking for students and the outpouring of emotion that came with it.

“We then went on to identify the students particularly affected by it and offer the support required.

“It’s a huge loss to us all and we want to send our condolences to the family and we offer them any support the school can provide in these difficult times.”

The school implemented its critical incident plan, and psychologists will be providing support.

Limerick politicians also expressed their shock

OPW minister of state Patrick O’Donovan described the tragedy as “everyone’s worst nightmare”.

Further education minister of state Niall Collins said everyone locally was shocked by the scale of what had happened.

“Our thoughts are with the family of the child, but also with the truck driver who was involved and who, I know, has been left quite shaken by the event,” Mr Collins said.

“We are used to hearing about tragic road collisions, but never are we used to hearing about a collision where a child aged just 12 was the driver of one of the vehicles.”

Newcastle West councillor Michael Collins said the entire community was stunned by the tragic death of such a young boy.

“It’s shocking to see any life lost in a road traffic collision, but when it’s such a young life, it’s very hard to comprehend,” he said.

Gardaí are appealing for any witnesses to the crash to come forward.

Road users who may have camera footage, including dash-cam, and were travelling on the N21 near Adare between 1am and 2am yesterday are asked to make it available to investigators.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Newcastle West garda station on 069 20650, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or any garda station.

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