Former police officer Joe Marroquin and his wife, Cathy, were driving to Dublin Airport on Wednesday to return to the US when the accident happened.

Joe was pronounced dead at the scene on the Castlepollard to Mullingar road, County Westmeath. However, his wife, Cathy, who is in her 60s, was rushed to Midlands Regional Hospital where she remains critically ill.

Two men, aged in their 30s and 20s, suffered minor injuries in the two-vehicle crash.

Mr Marroquin and his wife had been visiting relatives in Whitehall, County Westmeath.

He fought in the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1968 and also served as a policeman at the Bellaire Police Department, in Texas.

A spokesman for the Bellaire Police Department in Texas said: "The City of Bellaire and the Bellaire Police Department express deep sorrow at the tragic loss of Joe Marroquin.

"He passed away in a car accident while visiting family with his wife in Ireland.

"Our thoughts are with his wife, also a beloved member of our police department, who was also involved in the accident.

"We fervently hope for her swift recovery. Joe served with the US Marine Corps before becoming a police officer in 1970.

"He worked for Bellaire PD from 1972 -1985, joined Harris County, and returned to Bellaire in 2017. We thank him for serving.

"During this exceptionally challenging time, we extend our heartfelt condolences to their family.

"We wish them strength and support as they navigate this painful situation."

The City of Bellaire and the Bellaire Police Department express deep sorrow at the tragic loss of Bellaire Police...

Posted by Bellaire Police Department on Friday, July 5, 2024

A former colleague paid tribute to Mr Marroquin on the Bellaire Police Department Facebook page: "In 1972, Joe encouraged me to pursue my dream to be a police officer. In 1983, he was my Shift Commander when I started at BPD.

"To call him one of a kind would be a disservice. He was the penultimate professional, a great teacher, leader, manager, and cop. The world is a lesser place without him.

"General George Patton once said that it’s wrong to mourn heroes. Rather, we should thank God such men lived.

"Rest in peace and rise in glory, my friend."

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