Bus driver who came to tragic crash students’ aid praised by ambulance chief

A bus driver who came to the aid of students in a crash which claimed the lives of two men at the weekend has been praised for his quick thinking and “tremendous community spirit”.

Chief ambulance officer with the Western Region Ambulance Service, Paudie O’Riordan, offered the words of praise to Claregalway man William Ahern who sprang into action helping emergency services to deal with the aftermath of the tragic accident which occurred on Sunday evening last. Mr O’Riordan also offered his deepest sympathies to the families of both men whose remains are due to be laid to rest today and tomorrow.

Gardai in Tuam are currently working to piece together the circumstances which led to the road traffic collision on the N17 Tuam to Galway road at approximately 7.45pm on November 7. The head-on collision, at Glenafosha which is about three miles outside Tuam, resulted in the driver of a van, Alan Howard (36 ), and the driver of a bus, Peter Last (60 ), receiving serious injuries and both were pronounced dead at the scene.

The bus, owned by Michael Corduff, was travelling towards Galway with 27 students on board who were due to return back to college in Limerick. The students were taken to University College Hospital with 12 of them having sustained non life-threatening injuries. There was no one else in the other vehicle, driven by Mr Howard, at the time of the accident. The road remained closed for a number of hours for a forensic collision examination to be carried out and gardai are continuing their appeal for witnesses.

Responding to these tragic events Mr O’Riordan gave a special word of thanks to Mr Ahern, from Kiniska, Claregalway, and who works for Callinan Coaches, for showing “tremendous community spirit”. He said Mr Ahern, who was travelling towards Galway, brought 22 of the students to the emergency department at UHG while accompanied by an ambulance and a Garda escort. The students had been assessed on site by three advanced paramedics and were further assessed at UHG. Three other students travelled by ambulance to the emergency department.

Mr O’Riordan further explained: “On the night in question, the ambulance service had 11 ambulances responding to the incident from across the west - counties Galway, Mayo, and Roscommon. Many off-duty staff responded to a call from Regional Ambulance Control to allow for this level of response to be provided, thus ensuring ambulance cover be maintained across the region. As a service we are extremely grateful to all staff for the level of dedication and professionalism shown on the night and believe this is indicative of the high standards within the service.”

He then offered his deepest sympathies to the families of both men who tragically died and complimented the young students for their cooperation with the ambulance service. Mr O’Riordan added that the gardai, fire service, and the ambulance service worked extremely well together to try to manage the situation during what was “very diffucult circumstances and inclement weather conditions”.

Mr Howard, a father of one from Rockbarton in Salthill but originally from Carnmore, had worked as a food company supervisor and had married just last year. He will be laid to rest at Claregalway Cemetery today following 11am Mass at the Church of the Assumption and St James in Claregalway.

A funeral service for Mr Last will take place this evening at 5.30pm at The Holy Trinity Church in Westport, Co Mayo, and a cremation will take place tomorrow in Mount Jerome Crematorium in Dublin. Mr Last, a married man with one child, had been living in Murrisk, Westport, but was originally from Scotland. Mr Last had worked as a bus driver for 40 years and had driven the route from Swinford to Ballyhaunis, Dunmore to Tuam, and on to Limerick regularly for the past 10 years.

Anyone with information regarding the accident is asked to contact Tuam Garda Station on 093 70840 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.


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