The aunt of a young hit and run victim has described the dreadful moment she and a friend came upon her beloved nephew, covered in blood and lying in the middle of the road, believing a young cow had been knocked down, writes David Raleigh.
Garden centre worker and part-time barman David Kelly, (21), was walking home after attending a social gathering in Croom, Co Limerick, when he was struck by a vehicle in the early hours of last Monday.
Joanne Kelly, 35, said she and a friend were returning home from a charity event when they came upon Mr Kelly lying in the middle of the Croom to Ballingarry Road.
“I jumped out of our car after I saw something on the side of the road, I thought it was a young calf that had been knocked down. I didn't realise until I got closer that it was a person,” Ms Kelly said, speaking at her home.
“I ran over and bent down over him. There was a lot of blood and I knew the person had obviously been hit by something.”
“When I bent down I realised it was David," she said, fighting back tears.
“It was a terrible shock. I was horrified, absolutely horrified."
Ms Kelly explained: “To find a person on the side of the road is shocking enough, but, when you release it is one of your own family, it's worse again.”
“It was horrific, just to see him thrown there, lying in a pool of blood on the ground. It was a wet, cold, miserable night, and somebody left him there."
Appealing to the driver to “please come forward”, she added: “How would they feel if it was their son left lying on the road...Please come forward and put our minds at rest, so that we know who did this.”
Ms Kelly said when she found Mr Kelly, he was lapsing "in and out of consciousness".
"He'd answer us, only barely. We kept taking to him to let him knew he wasn't alone, and we were with him, and there was help on the way.”
Ms Kelly said her friend, who is a emergency hospital nurse, "held David's neck in place", and helped keep him stabilised on the side of the road as they awaited the arrival of paramedics who transferred Mr Kelly to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
“She doesn't want to be named, but I just want to say she was amazing," Ms Kelly said.
"She's a close friend of the family and she did everything she could for David at the side of the road. We’ll never forget her for it," she added.
David Kelly sustained fractures to two vertebrae in his neck, a fractured wrist, as well sustaining a large wound to his head and received more than 100 stitches.
He is due to be transferred to Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, for surgery on his neck in the coming days, Ms Kelly said.
“It's just so hard to come to terms with. Every time I close my eyes I can see him lying in the middle of the road. That's an image that will stay with me forever," she added.
“It's something that will never go away. I just pray to god that the gardai find whoever did it.".
Gardai are conducting house to house enquiries in the area, and also studying local CCTV cameras as part of their investigation.
Ms Kelly appealed to mechanics and vehicle repair services, and anyone buying second-hand vehicles, to be “vigilant”, and to call gardai if they suspect a vehicle may have been involved.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Newcastle West garda station on 06920650.
The Kelly family received positive news Tuesday when doctors informed them, that despite his serious injuries, Mr Kelly did not suffer brain damage.
“Thankfully he has no brain injury, so that is one less thing to worry about,” Ms Kelly said.
“He was hit on the head, and his left arm and the back of his neck. Something hit him but we just don't know what," she explained.
“Someone has to know something, she said reiterating her appeal for information. Someone hit him and just kept going; That's what the gardai suspect."
Mr Kelly's parents Carmel and John and his beloved grandmother Chrissie are devastated, Ms Kelly said.
They are keeping a daily vigil at Mr Kelly’s hospital bedside.
“They're traumatised, but they're holding out hope he will make a full recovery."
"It will take time, and he has a long road ahead. Please God he will be fine, but it will take time."
“David is bright, bubbly, friendly, outgoing, a good worker, and caring. He's a wonderful nephew, he'd do anything for anybody...He's great.”