Irish priest dies moments after saving woman's life by pushing her out of way of crashing bus

Irish priest dies moments after saving woman's life by pushing her out of way of crashing bus

AN IRISH priest has been hailed a hero after it emerged he died while saving a woman's life.

72-year-old Fr Con Cronin was killed after a runaway bus smashed into him in Monkstown, Co. Cork on Tuesday.

A second before impact, Fr Cronin pushed his parish secretary, who was walking beside him, to safety.

"The lady whose life he saved was our parish secretary," said Eamonn Downey, chair of Cork's Harbour Parishes Assembly.

"Con pushed her out of the way and was hit by the vehicle as a result. The lady has been left extremely shaken but escaped uninjured, thank God."

Mr Downey later said he was confident that the heroic priest has gone "straight to heaven".

The driver of the Bus Éireann coach, 51-year-old Mark Willis, also died in the accident. It's understood that he suffered a heart attack while at the wheel which led to the crash.

Both men were pronounced dead at the scene.

Tributes have since been pouring in for Fr Cronin, who was the curate in the parishes of Passage West and Monkstown.

Local independent councillor Marcia D’Alton said: "It sounds like this has been the most unbelievable tragedy.

"He was a man the like of whom one would rarely meet in one’s lifetime. A spacious man, a man who had room for everybody in his heart, church goers and non-church goers alike, it made no difference.

"He was everybody’s genuine friend."

The Taoiseach offered his condolences to the victims' families, saying that was "shocked and saddened at news of the accident in Monkstown in Cork," and that his  "thoughts and prayers are with the families of those bereaved, and all those affected by this tragedy."

Fr Cronin was ordained in 1979 and had ministered in Africa for 25 years before returning to Ireland in 2004.

Amazingly, he wasn't the only person to have saved a life during the tragic accident, after a father miraculously pulled his 13-year-old daughter from the path of the bus seconds before it ploughed into parked cars and pedestrians.