By David Raleigh, in Oola, Co Limerick
A mother was stabbed in her home, and her son and ex-partner died after their car ploughed into an artic truck, in a suspected murder suicide in Limerick today.
A friend of the boy's father said: "He loved his son."
What began a beautiful summer's day ended in double tragedy, sparked by an apparent domestic incident between "childhood sweethearts".
Twenty-six-year old mother of two, Jodie Power, of Oola, Co Limerick, sustained stab wounds during a violent assault at her home around 8am.
Her ex-partner Marco Velocci had called to the bungalow at Glebe, Oola, where an altercation occurred, and Ms Power suffered superficial wounds. Mr Velocci left the house with their son, Alex James, aged three, and they drove away in his black Audi estate.
Shortly afterwards, gardaí responded to a fatal crash 3kms from Ms Power's home, on the Limerick to Tipperary stretch of the N24, in which Mr Velocci and his son died instantly.
Minutes later, officers received a panicked phone call from a caller at Ms Power's home, telling them that she had been stabbed, and her son had been taken from the house by 28-year-old Mr Velocci.
As paramedics were treating Ms Power's wounds at her home, the bodies of her son, Alex James and Mr Velocci were discovered in the aftermath of the collision a short distance away.
'Veered across road'
According to a Garda source "several witnesses" saw Mr Velocci's car veer across the road into the path of the truck which had been travelling in the other direction.
The toddler was discovered lying on the road, while Mr Velocci was found inside the car.
Gardaí carefully placed a green-coloured blanket over the toddler, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The bodies of the father and son were later placed into coffins and removed by hearse to University Hospital Limerick where the State Pathologist is to carry out post mortems.
The driver of the truck, which ended up in a nearby field, was not injured, but was treated for shock.
A local Garda source confirmed Gardai were treating it as a suspected murder-suicide.
"Officially we are looking at a stabbing incident at a house and a fatal road traffic collision, but that's the way it looks alright," the source said.
Mr Velocci's father Onorio, is a well-known Italian native, who has worked all his life in chip shops in Limerick city.
The Italian side of Marco Velocci's family are originally from the village of Roselli, which belongs to the municipality of Casalvieri, in the province of Frosinone, in the region of Lazio.
'A great mother and neighbour'
Ms Power's parents, Elizabeth and Perry, from Oola, were been comforted by family and friends.
The young mother who has an 18-month-old baby from a separate relationship has two brothers, James and Perry jnr.
Her brother James, who lives in Australia was "on a plane home", a neighbour said.
Neighbours described Ms Power as a "lovely lady, a great mother, and a great neighbour".
Mr Velocci junior, who was a member of the Emily Latin Cullen Oola (ELCO) gun club, was originally from Oola, but had been living in Lattin, Co Tipperary.
Paying tribute, his best friend Jonathan Ryan said: "He was a great man for gun dogs, fishing, hunting sports - they were our sports.
"He was fierce into his wildlife. He was even on the newspaper a year or two ago after he found a young baby hare. He bottled fed him and nursed him back to life. He (cared for) him for a few months and left him off again.
"He was fierce kind-hearted. There was no badness whatsoever in the man, nothing like that...I'm completely and utterly shellshocked by it," Mr Ryan said.
"He was a very quiet, genuine person (who) never had a bad word to say about anyone. He kept to himself.
"We were mad for the fishing, the two of us - trout fishing and fly fishing. We'd fish the Doon River, the Mulkear River, the Dead River, we'd cycle to them and fish them up and down, and cycle back home."
"He was brilliant company."
'I had to. I couldn't...I fell down…'
Mr Ryan, who works in Wyeth, Askeaton, said: "I was at work today... It took a few minutes before I realised it. He was the same age as myself, 28. He was the nicest person you could meet, so friendly and quiet."
"He was never in trouble with anyone, like guards or anyone like that. He just loved his dogs, and shooting and fishing. He was one of the nicest kind hearted people you could meet."
Mr Ryan said Mr Velocci, who worked as a carpenter, "loved his son".
"He loved his family... did everything for them," he added. "He was a good friend to all of us, always was.
"I went to school with him all my life, primary and secondary school. The whole place is shell-shocked. I had to leave work. I had to. I couldn't...I fell down...
"Every winter we'd be out shooting, pheasants, ducks, everything. We used to love catching rabbits with ferrets, and we'd let them off in other areas to repopulate."
"He loved he countryside. He was a man of the country basically. He literally was quiet as a mouse. He had one sister and one brother, that's it.
"The heart of the village goes out to the families."
Couple separated more than a year ago
Jodie Power rents a 1950s modest bungalow, nestled in the shadows of the Galtee mountains, where she lived with her two sons. She had been separated from Mr Velocci for over a year, neighbours said.
Mr Velocci's former sports coach, John Ryan, who farms locally, said he knew the "childhood sweethearts" who he said had been seen out together with their son Alex on a family walk yesterday evening.
"The three (of them) were together yesterday evening, and seemed quite happy," Mr Ryan, (70), said.
"I know (Mr Velocci) personally and I know his partner as well who was stabbed. It's terrible. I can't get over it... I can't get over it. It's a tragedy.
"They have been together for years, since they were teenagers, really childhood sweethearts."
Mr Ryan, who coached Mr Velocci in underage GAA for Oola, described Mr Velocci as "a nice player".
"He was very talented. I lost contact with him after. He was big time into hunting. He was around the country hunting and shooting."
He added: "He seemed to call there this morning, and whatever happened....(neighbours) said they were together last night, and they seemed to be quite happy, no conflict or anything."
Local woman, Christine Ryan, said: "It was a shock for the village, really. It's sad."
Another local woman, Mary Ann Ryan said: "It's terrible. It's tragic. I'm shocked, that's all I can say."
Gardaí confirmed the office of the State Pathologist has been contacted to carry out post mortems on Mr Velocci and his son.
A Garda press office statement said: "Gardaí wish to appeal to anyone who may have witnesses the collision or may have travelled this road between 8am and 8.30am to contact the Gardaí at Bruff on 061 382940, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station."