Tragic garda risked his life in ‘fearless’ high-speed chase

THE garda killed in Sunday’s double road tragedy in Limerick risked his life in a high-speed chase during which a rock was smashed through his patrol car windscreen, it emerged yesterday.

In that 1996 incident, when he was stationed in Limerick city, Garda Brian Kelleher sped after a joy rider who had just knocked down a student garda and dragged him along a roadway under his car for more than 100 yards.

Garda Kelleher was on duty at Hyde Road with two colleagues, Garda Arthur Dennehy and student garda John Keating. He was driving their patrol car when they followed a stolen car.

Inspector Gerry McNamara of Roxboro Road garda station said yesterday: “The student gardaí, John Keating and Garda John Dennehy approached this car when it stopped. The car drove over a green area and John Keating was thrown onto the bonnet. He then fell under the car and was then dragged for more than 100 yards.

‘‘Garda Kelleher went in high speed pursuit and as he did so a rock was smashed through the windscreen of the patrol car. Despite this, he kept going and managed to track down the car. A man was arrested and jailed.

‘‘Brian Kelleher was fearless that way.”

The student garda survived horrific injuries.

It was confirmed yesterday that the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice Michael McDowell will attend the removal in Croom tonight of the remains of Garda Kelleher.

President Mary McAleese made a personal phone call to County Limerick chief fire officer Carmel Kirby yesterday to offer her condolences on the death of firefighter, Mike Liston. It also emerged last night that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will be represented at both men’s funerals by his aide de comp Comdt Micheal Murray

Garda Kelleher, 46, a native of Upper Quartertown, Mallow along with firefighter, Mike Liston, 47, from Foynes were both killed instantly on Sunday morning when they were hit by a car while attending the scene of a single car accident at Barrigone, Askeaton.

A youth, 18, who was driving an three-litre Audi coupe was arrested at the scene for suspected drink driving. He was released 10 hours later after questioning and a file is being prepared for the DPP.

Garda Kelleher is survived by his wife Marie, and sons, James, 10, Finnbar, eight, and Christopher, six.

Mike Liston is survived by his wife, Bernadette and children Noelle, 23, Lyn, 19, Niall, 16, and Ann, 15.

The removal of Garda Kelleher will take place from Daffy’s funeral home, Croom tonight at 8pm to the Holy Trinity Church, Dromin.

The burial will take place at the local cemetery after noon mass tomorrow .

Mike Liston’s funeral Mass will also take place in Foynes tomorrow at 1pm followed by burial at Robertstown cemetery.

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