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Cousins die in horrific New Year road tragedy

January 14, 2009 • Heritage,

michael-curtis-left-and-jj-leonardOnly hours into the New Year, two young Irishmen – cousins and best friends – were killed in a horrific car accident in country Victoria. Michael Curtis, 20, from Carlow town and JJ Leonard, 19, from Athy in Co Kildare, died when the red Ford Falcon in which they were travelling lost control on a bend near Balliang East in Victoria. Police were called to the scene – just outside the town of Bacchus Marsh and halfway between Geelong and Melbourne – after passers-by discovered the crash about 7am on New Year’s morning. The families of the two victims – including Michael’s mother Catherine and JJ’s mother Tracy – travelled to Australia once news of the tragedy reached them. The repatriation of the two victims’ bodies has now taken place, the Irish Echo understands. Police are still conducting an investigation into the incident. The two cousins had been living in Bacchus Marsh for nearly a year and had moved into an apartment in the town above the Young and Main Hotel. Michael had been in Australia since early January 2007, while JJ had followed his cousin Down Under a few weeks later. The pair were said to have been enjoying life in Australia and did not appear to have any plans to return to Ireland. Michael is even understood to have applied for residency. On hearing the tragic news, the Young and Main Hotel held a function for the boys to raise funds towards the expenses of their travelling parents. It is understood, however, that the two boys, who had been working as steel fixers on a building site, had their funeral and other expenses covered by their union. In a sad turn to the story it also emerged that Mr Leonard had a nine-month-old baby girl in Ireland, whom he had yet to meet. Meanwhile Mr Curtis’s family had just been recovering from the loss of his eight-year-old cousin a few weeks before.

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