Emergency crews who arrived at the scene of a motorcycle crash near Lisdoonvarna on Thursday night found that both vehicles had burst into flames.
Two men died when their motorcycles collided on the N67 Lisdoonvarna to Ennistymon road at around 6.45pm on Thursday.
One of the victims, named locally Ferdinand Waidel, was a 55-year-old German national who had been living in Clare for about 14 years. Mr Waidel is understood to have been returning home from shopping in Ennistymon when the tragedy happened.
The second is understood to be 53-year-old Chilean national Ricardo Godoy. His pillion passenger is believed to be his wife Pilar who is recovering at Galway University Hospital.
Mr Godoy was part of a group of six holiday makers from Chile who had been riding around Ireland on three motorcycles. He is understood to have been the leader of a motorcycle chapter in Chile and that the group had visited the Isle of Man last weekend for the famous TT races.
Known as ‘Ricky’, Mr Godoy was also the host of a cable television motorcycle show called Mototemáticos. His death was reported in the local media in Chile within hours of the tragedy.
Gardaí are investigating the possibility that his motorcycle may have drifted onto or slightly across the white line on a bend before colliding with the oncoming Mr Waidel. Both motorcycles burst into flames immediately.
Mr Waidel was thrown from his motorcycle which remained on the road but his clothing caught fire after spilled petrol ignited. The second motorbike left the road and crashed over a ditch setting fire to surrounding bushes. It’s driver lay injured on the road along with his pillion passenger partner.
On arrival at the scene, fire crews raced to extinguish the flames on Mr Waidel however the victim was found to have already died and was pronounced dead at the scene. Other firefighters quickly extinguished the fires that had engulfed both motorcycles and roadside scrub.
The Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) air ambulance was called in to airlift Mr Godoy to hospital however he was also pronounced dead before he could transferred to the helicopter.
His partner was later airlifted to Galway University Hospital where she was treated for non life-threatening injuries.
The road was closed overnight until a technical examination was completed early yesterday. All four motorcycles were removed from the scene to Ennistymon garda station where the two involved in the crash will be technically examined.
Gardaí helped arrange transport to get the other four members of the Chilean group back to their hotel in Co Offaly. It’s expected they will collect their motorcycles in the coming days before returning to Chile.
Gardaí are treating the collision as a tragic accident and while their investigation is ongoing, they believe they now know what happened.
Detective Inspector John Galvin said: “We know the identity of the victims and we are still liaising with the authorities in Germany and Chile in our efforts to ensure we contact all next of kin. We have interviewed the other members of the group and they have made statements.”
“We are investigating all the circumstances of this incident but it would appear to be a tragic accident. One of the motorcyclists was entering the bend while the other was coming out of it when they made contact,” Det/Insp Galvin added.
Post mortem examinations on the bodies of both men were complete at University Hospital Limerick on Friday.