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A Bronx Tragedy

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Patrick Markey

Members of a Bronx Irish-American family were left struggling with their grief this week after the sudden death of Brendan Ryan, the young man killed by a speeding car as he left his bachelor party early Sunday morning, just two weeks before his wedding.

Sorrow mixed with fond memories of Ryan, a man friends called a gentle man who approached life with an unassuming ease and an appreciation of the needs of others. Indeed, Ryan spent Wednesday nights with an Irish youth group handing out food to the homeless at Penn Station and Grand Central Station, his friends and family said.

A steady stream of Ryan’s family, friends and co-workers from Bell Atlantic, where he worked as a field technician, gathered Monday for a wake at a Bainbridge funeral home, not far from where the young man’s parents lived.

Outside, Mattie Farrelly recalled Thursday, the last day he had seen his friend. "He just had that same smile on his face that he always had," he said.

According to police and friends, Ryan had been in the Lansdowne bar, on Broadway in the Bronx, celebrating his bachelor party on early Sunday morning. He was hit while stepping out on to the street after a leaving the bar, said officer Lee Ann Tracy Ader, a police spokeswoman.

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"The driver initially stopped. But several witnesses became hostile and he fled the scene," Ader said. The driver, Mohammed Abelhalen, 34, was arrested and issued with a summons for speeding, the officer said.

Friends who had been with Ryan at the Lansdowne said he spent the night talking about his marriage and simply having a good time. A close friend and co-worker, Joe O’Donnell, was among the 35 friends who were with him that night.

"It was the happiest ever," O’Donnell said at the funeral home. "He was crossing and he was hit by a car. He was just the best guy in the world. No enemies. Everybody loved him."

Ryan’s father, Richard, is from County Tipperary and his mother, Carmel, from County Clare. The family said their son was proud of his Irish heritage. Ryan’s older sisters, Kathleen O’Connell and Patricia Cruz, said the family would travel to Ireland most summers. Their brother also loved Irish music, they said.

"He was just a really good guy, you know," Kathleen said.

Ryan had met his fiancee, Sheilah McGuckin, at the insurance company where the couple had once worked together, said Fr. Michael Morrow of St. Brendan’s Church in the Bronx. The priest was to have performed the wedding ceremony, and had been helping the couple prepare for marriage.

"As you can understand, you come to know the couple quite well," Morrow said. "There has been a real outpouring of affection for the families."

Morrow will now lead a funeral Mass for Ryan at St. Brendan’s on Wednesday.

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