The village of Ballinalee is in shock following the death of a local man in a road traffic accident last Friday evening.
Jason Behan, who was 27, died when his car struck a pole while driving through the village of Legan. A passenger, named locally as 22-year-old Bobby McGregor, was hospitalised after receiving non-life-threatening injuries in the incident.
Originally from Dublin, Mr Behan moved to the area with his family 20 years ago, and attended Scoil Samhthann NS and Moyne Community School before joining the Defence Forces.
“He had served with the UN in Chad and was an award-winning machine gunner with his battalion,” his father Eamonn told the Longford Leader, adding that he had been stationed at McKee Barracks in Dublin before leaving the army to pursue a new career.
“He was also a champion boxer and trained in Taekwondo with Jan Bartels in Longford.”
Mr Behan was the father of a young daughter, and his sister Edel said, “He loved spending time with children.”
Local County Councillor Micheál Carrigy summed up the feeling in the local community: “It’s tragic seeing a young father’s life being taken away. The community is especially shocked given the circumstances.”
Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, James Bannon, has appealed for a renewed focus on road safety in the wake of the crash.
“This fatality brings to 26 the number of people who have lost their lives on the roads in 2015. That is 26 people too many,” he stated.
“It was only last year that a member of my own staff lost her life on this same stretch of road. I appeal to anyone taking to the roads to slow down and drive with care. There is still a lot of work to be done to drive home the message of road safety in all parts of the country.
“My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the young man who lost his life.”
Jason Behan is survived by his daughter Alexia; parents Eamonn and Mary; and sisters Claire, Edel, and Shaunagh.
His Funeral Mass will take place at 1.30pm today, Wednesday, at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Ballinalee, with burial afterwards in Mulhuddart Cemetery, Dublin. The Behan family has requested for donations to be made to the Jack and Jill Foundation in lieu of flowers.
Meanwhile, Gardaí in Granard are continuing their investigation into the road traffic accident and have renewed their appeal for witnesses.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Granard Garda Station on 043 6687660.