Near to where three-year-old Alex James Velocci was found, his father Marco Velocci, 28, was discovered at the wheel of his ’05 black A4 Audi estate.
Moments earlier, the car had veered into the path of an oncoming articulated truck on a wide section of the N24 national primary road between Limerick and Tipperary.
Bewildered and grieving relatives and friend last night were asking: Why?
Shortly after 8am, Marco, described as a “gentle, quiet-spoken” carpenter, drove to the home of his former partner, Jodie Power, aged 26, at Glebe in Oola. The county council house, built in 1950, is just off the main street in Oola village. Jodie lived there with Marco’s son Alex and a younger boy, whose father lives in Tipperary town. The couple separated over a year ago.
The tragic events began to unfold when gardaí in Bruff got a call about a serious road accident near Oola involving a car and a truck.
Minutes later, they got a call from Jodie, who, in a very distressed state, told how she was attacked by Marco, who had taken Alex. As gardaí went to the house, others were deployed to the scene of the road accident. Jodie was taken by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick, where she was treated for minor stab wounds to her arm.
The scale of what had occurred in the smash emerged within minutes. Alex had been thrown from the car in the impact. His father died at the wheel of the car, which spun 180 degrees and ended up on the grass verge. The truck ended up in a field on the other side of the road. The driver was badly shaken, but unhurt.
Alex’s body was found on the roadway near the front left wheel of the car.
Local parish priest Fr John Morris was one of the first on the scene, where he performed the last rites.
As the horror unfolded, people in the village of Oola struggled to come to grips with the scale of what had occurred.
Marco’s best friend Jonathan Ryan said he went into a state of collapse after hearing the news when he arrived for work at the Wyeth baby food factory in Askeaton.
Jonathan, 28, and Marco were life-long friends and went to primary and secondary school together. Jonathan told of Marco’s kind nature and love of people and animals.
He and Marco were members of the Emly Lattin Cullen Oola (ELCO) gun club.
“Marco was the nicest kind-hearted person you could meet, so gentle and quiet. He loved his son and his family. A good friend to all of us, good natured. Taken too soon.
“He was never in trouble with anybody... guards or anyone. He loved to go hunting and fishing and loved his dogs. We spent many days on the Mulcair river fishing. He loved animals and he once found a baby hare and brought him home, bottle fed him for a few months and brought him back to the wild. Marco was a very kind-hearted, genuine person who never had a bad word to say about anybody. He was very quiet and kept to himself.
“He had gun dogs. We both went trout fishing. We’d cycle to the Mulcair and Doon rivers, fish it up and down and then cycle home. He was brilliant company. He wasn’t a big drinker.
“I went to work today and when you get told something like that, it takes a few minutes before you realise it. I fell down when it began to sink in.”
Jonathan said the whole community was devastated over the tragic events.
“When he was younger, he played football, all sports, but as we got older, it was all shooting and fishing, the dogs. We’d be out shooting pheasants in the winter and on the river fishing during the summer. He was a gentleman, as quiet as a mouse.”
A neighbour of Jodie’s, who asked not to be named, said she idolised Alex and his younger brother.
He said: “Her parents Pery and Liz are over in Solohead a few miles from Oola.
Her brother James is travelling home from Australia and she has one other brother, Pery, here.