Westmeath fire deaths: Gardaí launch criminal investigation into the deaths of Thelma, 5, and Michael, 2, in a car fire

A criminal investigation into the circumstances of the deaths of two children in a car fire in Co Westmeath is ongoing, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has confirmed.

At his peak today in Galway, Mr Harris said the deaths of Michael, 2, and Thelma, 5, who died in the car fire last Friday, were being treated as suspicious.

He added that An Garda Síochána is asking for the public’s assistance in the investigation and is seeking any information from people in the Multyfarnham area on September 9 from 3pm to 3.30pm.

They are particularly interested in looking at dashcam footage captured of passing motorists at the time.

The children’s mother, Lynn Egar, who was pulled from the car by a bystander, remains hospitalized with injuries that are believed to be non-life threatening.

Gardaí continue to investigate all circumstances surrounding the fire and have completed a forensic search at the scene of the fire and also at the remote farmhouse where the family lived 12km away outside the town of Rathowen.

A candlelight vigil was held in Multyfarnham last night, attended by hundreds of people who remembered the little brother and sister.

The congregation met at the Children of Lir Montessori and Preschool, which Michael had just attended this month before going to St. Cremin’s National School, where Thelma was a senior.

The preschool paid tribute to the children today.

In a statement, staff and children at the family’s Children of Lir preschool expressed their “sincere condolences on the tragic loss of Thelma and Michael.”

It added: “Thelma had been on our ECCE program and she was a beautiful, happy and fun-loving little girl who will be sorely missed by all of us. We will miss them very much.”

Meanwhile, the elementary school that Thelma attended placed a memorial table on her door today in honor of the innocent victims of the fire.

A candlelight vigil was held in Multyfarnham last night, attended by hundreds of people who gathered to commemorate the little brother and sister.

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The local community make their way through Multyfarnham for a vigil for Lynn Egar’s children Thelma (5) and Michael (2). Photo: Caroline Quinn

The congregation met at the Children of Lir Montessori and preschool that Michael had just attended earlier this month before going to St. Cremin’s National School where Thelma was a senior.

That morning, the principal and staff set up a memorial table at the school with candles surrounding photos of Michael and Thelma. Well-wishers left messages of condolence along with teddy bears and other tributes for the children.

In a statement, Headmaster Karl Dermody said they were devastated to learn of the sudden death of a loved one in the school community.

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A memorial table at St Cremin’s National School, Multyfarnham, where Thelma was in older infants

“Thelma will be remembered by classmates and teachers as a warm, happy and vibrant member of St Cremin’s National School,” said Mr. Dermody.

“We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family as they cope with this tragic loss of life.

“As a school, our priority will be to take every step to ensure the needs of our students and their families are met during this challenging time.

“We will support students and school staff as they navigate this tragedy. Psychologists from the National Educational Psychological Services have supported us at our school and supported staff and parents.”

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A teddy bear is left at the scene of the car fire in Westmeath that claimed the lives of the young siblings last Friday

A growing number of teddy bears, toys, flowers and candles were placed by local people at the fire site on the secluded road outside of town.

Local Franciscan priest Father John O’Brien said that “a deep sadness hangs like a cloud” over the congregation.

“There’s this feeling of being dazed and confused until we’re like, ‘How are we going to deal with this?'” he told RTÉ Radio One Tomorrow Ireland. “The sense of unreality that we are facing a terrible tragedy. The feeling of unreality: did it really happen and suddenly we realize, yes, it happened. The two little children are dead.

“So there’s an overwhelming feeling of sadness, disbelief and not being able to find the words to express it yet.

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A toy digger is left at the scene of the fire on the outskirts of Multyfarnham, Co Westmeath

“The other thing people are doing right now is just meeting informally. Moms talk and worry about their kids going to school tomorrow how they will face the news.

“It’s going to be tough for the teachers and very tough for the little ones who are dealing with this terrible sense of sorrow and loss. This is where the healing really begins.”

He added: “We don’t have a wand to wave that takes away the tears, we just have to sit and be with someone and if there are tears we let them flow. It’s a lonely time for everyone.”

Father O’Brien said he was driving home on Friday night when a Garda car drove past him and he “knew by the speed something was wrong”.

“Then the next day, helicopters were flying, people came and went, roads closed, guards all over the fields. It felt like, from a very quiet place, it was suddenly a deeply tragic place, a deeply lonely place.”

Father O’Brien added that he spoke to a woman whose son was a friend of one of the children who died and she asked: ‘How are we going to tell him this, how are we going to help him?

“Because it’s going to be very difficult for a five-year-old to take that on board. As adults we find it difficult, but as a young child the sense of loss can be devastating.”

“She’s not the only mother [who feels this way] – she currently represents many mothers.”

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/westmeath-fire-deaths-gardai-launch-criminal-investigation-into-deaths-of-thelma-5-and-michael-2-in-car-blaze-41981884.html Westmeath fire deaths: Gardaí launch criminal investigation into the deaths of Thelma, 5, and Michael, 2, in a car fire

Fry Electronics Team

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