An Irish father of three was simply in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’ as he became a victim of the worst storm to hit Britain in a decade.

Waterford born London resident Donal Drohan died when his car was hit by a falling tree in dreadful weather conditions on Monday.

The 51-year-old father of three was one of eight people to lose their lives as the storm, branded Hurricane St Jude, raged across Britain and much of mainland Europe.

Drohan had returned home to Waterford only two months ago to bury his father Tony.

The Harrow based council official died after his car was struck at the eastern end of the bridge over the River Colne on Lower High Street in Watford shortly before 7am.

The storms resulted in four deaths in Britain, two in Germany and one each in both France and Holland.

A 14-year-old boy who was swept out to sea off the Sussex coast in England is also feared dead.
The Irish Independent reports that Drohan’s family released a statement after the tragedy.

They said “He was the best husband and father anyone could wish for. You couldn’t find anyone who had a bad word to say about him.

“He was very supportive to everybody who knew him and couldn’t say no to helping out with anything.

“He was an active member of the community who was involved with local groups and had recently helped Team Harrow of The Challenge Network helping to shape the lives of hundreds of young people within the local community.”

A police officer who arrived at the scene of the incident just minutes after the tree fell said that a milliseconds difference in Donal Drohan’s journey would have made for ‘a different story’.

The unnamed officer said: “This is a major artery into Watford and we were lucky it was school half-term. If it wasn’t, we’d have had a lot more traffic coming through here.”

Susan Hall, leader of Harrow Council, said: “This is an absolute tragedy and everyone is devastated. Donal was one of our public realm managers and had worked for us for nearly 25 years.

“He was always cheerful, and passionate about his job keeping our streets clean. His council colleagues are finding this very hard to deal with. Our thoughts are with Donal’s family both here and in Ireland.”

Witness Richard Searle, director of Quality Lounge Suites in Watford, said the incident was ‘very upsetting’ and he was ‘very sorry’ for the man’s family.

Searle said: “It happened about a minute before I got here. I was driving to work - normally I try to get in early -  and as I got here, the traffic had slowed down.

“I couldn’t go straight in, so I pulled on the drive, parked my car up, and then I walked down the road assuming there’d been an accident.

“I noticed as I walked down there that a tree had fallen on top of a red Peugeot. I didn’t like the look of what I saw and it was too late for me to do anything.

“One minute earlier and it could have been me. I will say the police and ambulance were very quick to arrive.”