Police are investigating whether a driver deliberately ploughed head-on into a family car to take his own life, killing a two-year-old boy and an unborn child and critically injuring their parents.
The young victim, named locally as Oisin Twomey, died and his father Con and mother Elber were critically injured in the crash on Friday while holidaying in Devon.
Police said they were still in critical condition in hospital on Monday morning.
The family, from Meelin, County Cork, were expecting a second child, which also died following an emergency caesarean operation at Torbay Hospital.
Police sources said a Polish man in his 20s was arrested at the scene of the crash on Hamelin Way, Torquay, on suspicion of murder, but later died in hospital.
It is understood concerns had been raised that he may have been suicidal, and his vehicle’s details had been issued to officers. A police car had passed the Polish driver heading in the opposite direction and was turning to follow him when he was seen to swerve into the oncoming traffic.
Mr and Mrs Twomey both come from tight-knit families in Cork and their parents and siblings flew to the UK on Friday when the news broke.
Mr Twomey, 39, was taken by ambulance to Derriford Hospital, while Mrs Twomey and Oisin were taken to Torbay Hospital by air ambulance.
Both parents have undergone surgery.
“The male driver remains in intensive care in Derriford Hospital, Plymouth, and in a critical condition having undergone surgery,” a police spokesman said at the weekend. “The 36-year-old woman, who was a front-seat passenger, was initially conveyed to Torbay Hospital but later transferred by land ambulance to Derriford Hospital, where she remains in a critical condition.
“The female casualty was pregnant and an operation was carried out to save the unborn child. However, the child did not survive.”
The major crime investigation team and serious collision investigation unit are looking into the circumstances of the crash.
The force has referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission as a matter of course. However the officer had not been in pursuit of the vehicle.
Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: “This was an extremely traumatic incident where emergency services were working on the family at the scene and subsequently in ambulances and at the hospital, and it has been traumatic on all those involved.
“It was a head-on collision at speed. The black Vectra was coming down the hill and appears to have swerved into the path of the oncoming car.”
He added that the adverse weather conditions being experienced throughout the country did not contribute to the cause of the collision.
The road was closed for ten hours while the vehicles were recovered and forensic examinations took place.
Twenty-five emergency service vehicles attended the incident, along with three air ambulances, which helped to take all four occupants of the cars to hospital.