“Absolute shock and horror” were the two emotions felt by the community in the wider Glengarriff area following a terrible tragedy in the early hours of this morning.
A single-vehicle collision occurred at approximately 5:30am on the Kenmare Road near Glengarriff.
Two occupants of the vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene.
The deceased have been named locally as Michael Bowen (40) from Sheep's Head peninsula and Tadgh Murphy (19), from the Glengarriff area.
Another man was airlifted to Cork University Hospital with serious injuries. A fourth male occupant of the vehicle was uninjured.
It’s understood that the uninjured man tried to help the other occupants of the car to safety.
Speaking to The Echo, Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said the car, with four men inside, struck a ditch and ended upside down in a river.
“One person escaped. He pulled out the second person it looks like, and they couldn’t get the other two out.
“They obviously sought help and assistance at that stage. Ambulance crew and Gardai arrived on the scene,” he said.
The road has been closed for a considerable period of time to facilitate forensic collision investigators.
“Relatives of the deceased have been informed. The investigation is continuing to try to ascertain what happened and what caused the accident,” Chief Superintendent Cadogan added.
Of the man who was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries, he said: “He has been on the critical list, but it’s hoped that he will make a full recovery. Obviously the guy who got out first managed to get him out as well and resuscitate him, we believe, and went for help then.”
He also highlighted the feeling amongst the rural community near Glengarriff.
“It’s a massive tragedy. Obviously a community in shock down around the Beara peninsula. They’re reeling in the aftermath of it,” he added.
Independent TD Michael Collins, who knows the families of both the deceased, echoed the sentiments of the Chief Superintendent and told The Echo that people from the whole area surrounding Glengarriff were in shock following the news of the incident.
“The place is in shock. I don’t know what’s the right words to put on it, there are no words with news like this filtering through.
“They’re well-known in the area, and the area is in absolute shock and horror.
“There is another person who has been injured as well and our thoughts are with the families at this time, but we just obviously hope that it doesn’t get worse,” he said.
Local councillor Danny Collins said the tragedy was felt across West Cork.
"There are two peninsulas now that are mourning the deaths of these two fine young men - the Sheep's Head and the Beara peninsulas. It's an awful shock to the communities."
Gardaí at Bantry are appealing for any witnesses to the collision to come forward.
They are also appealing for any road users who may have camera or dash-cam footage who were travelling in the area at the time to make this footage available to Gardaí.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Bantry Garda Station on 027 20860 or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.