04/12/2013 13:09 EDT | Updated 06/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Wife of former VANOC CEO killed in car crash

The former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics has confirmed that his wife was killed in a car crash while the couple were vacationing in Ireland.

"It is with a broken heart that I must tell you of the death of my beloved wife," husband John Furlong confirmed in a statement on Friday morning. "Our extended families are beyond words over this loss."

Deborah Sharp Furlong died on Thursday while driving alone in southeastern Ireland.

The 48-year-old mother of two was Furlong's third wife. They were married last summer.

Irish police said the car she was driving collided head-on with an SUV on a rural road near Gorey.

Local journalist Damien Tiernan said police contacted John Furlong from the scene of the crash, but he was unable to reach his wife before she was taken by air ambulance to a hospital.

"Unfortunately because of the seriousness of her injuries, the helicopter had to leave before he arrived," said Tiernan, a correspondent with RTE, the Irish public broadcaster.

Sharp Furlong was pronounced dead at the hospital, with her husband by her bedside.

Police said the driver of the other vehicle, a man in his 40s, was only slightly hurt.

Difficult year

Last September, Deborah Furlong was at her husband's side as he denied allegations by a journalist alleging he had verbally and physically mistreated native students while he was a teacher at a Catholic school in Burns Lake in the late 1960s.

Furlong has launched a lawsuit against freelance writer Laura Robinson and the Georgia Straight newspaper, which published the story.

"She was really a pillar of strength for John when he was close to crumbling under all those allegations," said Gary Mason, a friend of the Furlongs.

"[He] feels very alone right now. He told me that. And I just can't imagine what he's going to do going forward," Mason added.

Furlong remains in Ireland making plans to bring his wife's remains back to Canada.

In Vancouver, condolences continue to pour in for Sharp Furlong, who worked as an associate producer on the CBC series Arctic Air.

"Deb put her heart and soul into everything she did for the show," Omnifilm Entertainment and Arctic Air Productions said in a joint statement on Friday.

"She just was a force of energy that we all revolved around in many ways because she was so joyful," added Gigi Boyd, her friend of 15 years.