‘My son came here at 18 with a dream - now I’m going to take him home at 23 without one of his legs’

M50 crash: Family and friends of Brazilian Deliveroo rider João Ferreira describe horror of Garda incident and aftermath

The friends and family of a Brazilian Deliveroo rider who lost part of his right leg after being seriously injured on the M50 in Dublin by a Garda vehicle have described their shock at the incident.

João Ferreira (23) was among a number of Brazilian riders who had rallied to help a friend recover a stolen bike on Saturday afternoon by following its tracking device when the incident happened near junction 11, Tallaght.

“It all happened really fast,” Andre Monteiro (29), who was at the scene, told The Irish Times. He explained that the Brazilian rider community has a practice of helping those who had their motorbike stolen by tracking the GPS by following the suspects and says that most of the time, they are able to recover the vehicle.

Both the Garda and some of the Brazilian men were involved in the search for the bike. Mr Ferreira and some of his friends stopped at the same location and he was struck by a Garda vehicle at that scene.

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Photographs appeared on social media showing Mr Ferreira on the ground being comforted by a friend. A damaged unmarked Garda car is also in some of the photos at the crash scene next to a roadside barrier.

A vehicle, according to the eyewitnesses, struck Mr Ferreira and “hit him right over his right leg”.

“It was a lot of blood. It was a horror scene. I’ve never seen anything like that before,” Mr Monteiro said.

The victim, Mr Ferreira, moved to Dublin with his girlfriend, Júlia Langneck, to study English five years ago. The news of the injury came as a shock to her.

“It was tough. Very tough. It was a lot of information at once. It’s like everything stops functioning, adding to the challenge of being away from home. Also, there is a language barrier. It’s like feeling powerless,” Ms Langneck said.

Mr Ferreira went through the first of several surgeries to come on Sunday morning, where he had his leg from the knee downwards amputated. He is being cared for at Tallaght University Hospital.

Ms Langneck told The Irish Times that it is still unknown if he has other injuries, and she worries that he has suffered damage to his spine.

“He was asking for his family. He was so worried that he could lose part of his leg. It is maddening. It is a difficult situation worsened by being in another country, not yours,” she said.

Ms Langneck was the one to call his mother, Sheila Thomaz (47), who flew from São José dos Campos in southeastern Brazil as soon as she heard her son was seriously injured.

The news of the incident has been picked up by Brazilian media and social media. Mr Ferreira’s father, the mayor of São José dos Campos, confirmed the news on the social media platform X, expressing his regret that he could not be at his son’s side.

On Monday close by the Spire, Mr Ferreira’s friends and family, and members of the Brazilian community living in Dublin, held a protest demanding justice and a proper investigation of his case.

The precise circumstances of the collision, and how all parties came to be stopped on the M50 at about 3.15pm on Saturday, are now under investigation. The case has been referred by the Garda to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc), its watchdog agency, for investigation. Any incident in which a person is seriously injured or killed at, or around, the time they have had dealings with Garda members must be investigated by Gsoc.

Gsoc issued a statement saying the incident occurred on the northbound carriageway of the M50, at junction 11 Tallaght, where the northbound on-ramp merges with the motorway.

“Gsoc would like to speak to any witnesses who observed any incident, activity or interactions at this time and location,” it said. “Gsoc would also welcome the provision of any CCTV, dashcam or mobile footage witnesses may have captured.”

Gsoc said the crash was referred to it by a Garda superintendent on Saturday, under the provisions of the Garda Síochána Act, and it would be making no further comment at this time. The section of the M50 where the crash occurred remained closed off overnight into Sunday morning to facilitate an examination of the scene.

Mr Ferreira’s mother Ms Thomaz, who arrived from Brazil to be with her son, spoke of being powerless in the face of the incident.

“It’s a feeling of impotence, being completely powerless. Being at his bedside and not being able to do anything to help your child, only asking him to react, to be strong…for God to give him strength,” she said.

“My son came here with a dream at 18 years old, and now, I am going to take him home at 23, without one of his legs.”

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