Gardaí were last night waiting to question a man in connection with the death of his two children after a nationwide search for them.
The bodies of brothers Eoghan Chada, 10, and Ruairi, 5, were discovered in a car driven by their father Sanjeev, who crashed it outside Westport, Co Mayo.
Gardaí believe the boys were not killed as a result of the crash and were already dead. There were unconfirmed reports they were found in the boot of the car.
Mr Chada, aged 43, was taken to hospital with injuries described as not serious. Detectives will talk to him as soon as doctors allow it.
Garda sources said there was “nothing in the background” of Mr Chada to explain his actions. Sources said there was no relevant medical or psychiatric history, although there are some signs he might have been stressed and had been out of work.
The boy’s mother, Kathleen, was being comforted last night by family and friends at her home at Ballinkillen outside Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
Parish priest Fr Declan Foley, who was in the family home when the news came through, said it was like an “earthquake” had hit the place and that everybody there was “devastated”.
He said the boys were their mother’s “pride and joy” and described their deaths as “a very, very dark day”.
Mrs Chada reported the boys missing at 1.30am on Monday after her husband failed to bring the children home from bowling in Carlow town the previous evening.
Garda sources said taking the boys was “certainly out of character” for Mr Chada. After exhausting internal means of locating his green Ford Focus, gardaí made a decision shortly before 2pm to issue the country’s first Child Rescue Ireland alert.
CRI, established in May 2012, involves transport networks, local authorities, and the media in a national alert system in cases where there is a “reasonable belief” that a child has been abducted and where there is “an immediate and serious risk” to the health and welfare of the child.
Images and details of the two boys and their father were released, along with descriptions of Mr Chada’s car.
Less than two hours later, gardaí were alerted to a single-vehicle crash at Clooneen, Rosbeg, about 6km from Westport.
Describing the moment when Mrs Chada was informed, Fr Foley said: “It was like as if an earthquake hit the place really. It was devastating for all of us, as I know the family particularly well.
“You can’t put into words really the shock and the numbness and the pain and the grief of that news coming through that her two boys had died in the accident.”
Kathleen works as a nurse and is from Ballinkillen.
Originally from India, Mr Chada is understood to have worked in the financial sector until recently but was lately out of work. Well known in the Ballinkillen and Bagenalstown areas, having settled locally years ago, he was involved in the community council.
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