Student dropped friend home 10 minutes before fatal accident

TWO rural communities were numbed by grief yesterday following the tragic deaths of two young women in separate road traffic accidents.

In Timoleague, Co Cork, the family and friends of Kate Fleming were mourning her death in an early morning accident which occurred shortly after she had dropped a friend home.

The 18-year-old university student is survived by her brother Bill, 14, and parents Peter and Kathleen.

Cork County councillor John O’Sullivan described the Flemings as a very popular family and said the local community was “absolutely numbed” by the terrible news of Kate’s death.

Superintendent Pat Maher said his thoughts were with the Fleming family, from Barryshall, Timoleague.

He said gardaí believed Kate had dropped a friend home to Reenascreena, near Rosscarbery, about 10 minutes before she crashed her Toyota Landcruiser jeep at around 5am. She was the only occupant and no other vehicle was involved.

The road was closed for a number of hours to allow a detailed technical examination of the scene.

Ms Fleming’s body was taken to Cork University Hospital for post-mortem examination.

Anybody with information is asked to contact Clonakilty garda station at 023-8821570.

In Dangan, Golden, Co Tipperary, the family and friends of 17-year-old Claire Prendergast were coming to terms with the news of her death near Portumna in Co Galway.

Ms Prendergast was a front seat passenger in a Nissan Micra car which collided with a Mercedes Benz travelling in the opposite direction. The four occupants of the other car were hospitalised but their injuries were not serious. However, the driver and second passenger of the Nissan Micra, both 19-year-old girls, suffered serious injuries.

The accident happened at a bend on the road between Portumna and Killimor.

Emergency crews rushed to the scene, where Ms Prendergast was pronounced dead. Her two companions were rushed to hospital in Galway city. One of the girls was transferred last night to the Mater Hospital in Dublin.

The N65 road between Portumna and Loughrea was closed and traffic diversions were put in place yesterday as forensic experts carried out an investigation.

Driving conditions in the area were poor at the time, with rain throughout the night and the morning.

The three girls were on their way to Loughrea and had planned to continue to Galway city. They were visiting a friend and former schoolmate from Golden who was in Galway.

The death of the popular teenager has shocked communities in south Tipperary.

Deputy Tom Hayes, who knows the families of the three girls, said the crash had caused widespread shock.

“The place is stunned,” he said. “All of the families would be well known and very well-respected. It is a terrible, terrible thing to happen and the community is rocked by it.”

Mr Hayes said that the Prendergast family were well known in farming circles in south Co Tipperary.

Ms Prendergast is survived by her parents and a younger brother. She was an award-winning student at Cashel Community School and was studying for her Leaving Cert.

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