GARDAI risked their lives and saved others during a high-speed chase through the county and city over St Patrick’s weekend.
There were countless near misses as a teenager in a souped up Toyota Starlet fled from gardai. He broke red lights, drove on the wrong side of the road around bends, overtook on white lines, forced oncoming motorists into the hard shoulder, hit speeds of 170kmph, narrowly avoided a truck and rammed garda cars.
One eyewitness told the Leader it was like something from the TV show Traffic Cops.
“How there wasn’t a serious accident I don’t know. It was a complete miracle, they just flew by me,” said the person.
The pursuit, which lasted around 45 minutes, started on the Dublin Road when the car driven by a seventeen year-old went through a red light. Upto six garda cars were involved in the chase that took in Castletroy, Dublin Road, Lisnagry, Castleconnell, Daly’s Cross, Ballysimon, Boher, parts of Cappamore, Murroe, Newport and ended in Rearcross when the teen lost control and crashed into a ditch.
Chief Superintendent David Sheahan paid tribute to his officers who risked their lives to stop the 17-year-old.
“It beggars belief how a youth at that age could attain speeds of that nature and not only put his own life at risk, but put the lives of my colleagues at risk and the lives of all the motorists he missed along the way.
“Any mistake at all along those roads would have certainly resulted in a death, and if not death, certainly serious injuries to a number of people. Thankfully nobody was hurt,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.
The chase began shortly before midnight on Friday night.
“He went through a set of traffic lights on the Dublin Road. When gardai tried to stop him he got up to a speed in excess of 140km in a 60km zone. He continued to drive through another set of red lights, overtook traffic on continuous white lines, oncoming traffic had to take evasive action.
“He proceeded out to Newtown, Annacotty where speeds were in excess of 137km in a 60km zone. He overtook on a continuous white line, drivers had to take evasive action to avoid colliding with him.
“It then went onto Lisnagry - 146km in an 80km zone. He then came back into Castleconnell, drove on the incorrect side of the road going around bends in a residential area at 107km in a 50km,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.
As it was a Friday night roads would have busy with people out socialising. The teen continued to flee. He went up by Daly’s Cross and onto the Old Dublin Road reaching 160kms. Other patrol cars had joined in to help stop the turbo charged Starlet.
“On the Ballysimon Road they were joined by other patrol cars who tried to get ahead of him and slow him down to box him in. He struck one of the patrol cars and continued at high speed out the Tipperary Road at 170kms,” said the chief superintendent.
To try and lose the garda he went left for Cappamore - where there was fatality in recent years - and towards Murroe. He went left at Power’s Pub in Abington without stopping and headed back towards the city.
“He dove around bends on the incorrect side of the road in Ballyvarra and narrowly missed an articulated truck driver,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.
The high speed chase continued out the Newport Road, through the village and out to Reacross where it ended in a ditch after the driver lost control. It is understood that garda cars had to block him in as he continued to try and ram garda cars. Material damage was cased to a garda vehicle.
The 17 year-old, believed to be from Ardnacrusha, was taken to Henry Street. Due to his age his parents were contacted and he was released into their custody.
A file is being prepared for the DPP.
Chief Supt Sheahan said it is driving like this that causes accidents.
“One of the startling figures in this division was the number of fatal accidents. In 2010 there were 15 fatal accidents, in 2011 there were 14, 2012 - 5 and 2013 - 5. There has been a huge drop in fatal accident.
“The one thing we are advocating is not to become complacent. It is driving like this that causes accidents.
“A lot of the road users have certainly taken on board a lot of advice and changed their own driving behaviour - that has brought about that change. There is an enforcement element to it but there is certainly a bigger element from the community themselves and that has to be acknowledged,” said Chief Supt Sheahan.