Golfer 'had shaft of club embedded in his head after taxi somersaulted into ravine on Spanish holiday'
An Irish golfer holidaying in Spain had the shaft of a golf club embedded in the back of his head when a Spanish taxi went out of control and somersaulted into a ravine, the Circuit Civil Court was told today.
Barrister Shane English, counsel for amateur golfer John Moroney, Drumin, Dunleer, Co Louth, told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, that two other Co Louth golfers were also injured in the crash minutes after the threesome had left La Manga Golf Club.
Mr Moroney said that in September 2010 he and friends Michael Lynch and Mark Lawless had just finished a round of golf at La Manga and hired a taxi to take them to their hotel.
“The driver took off very quickly, even before we had time to put our seat belts on,” Moroney told Mr English.
“He continued to drive at an alarming pace and hit a crash barrier as he tried to overtake another car in the middle of the road.”
Mr Moroney said he had been knocked unconscious and only woke up when he arrived strapped in a wheel chair at the local Santa Maria hospital where a surgeon had operated to remove part of a golf club shaft from the back of his head.
Mr English, who appeared with David Martin of Gore & Grimes Solicitors, told Judge Groarke that the taxi overturned and toppled into a seven metres deep water run-off ravine. Mr Lynch, of Johnstown, Dunany, Togher, and Mr Lawless, of Glebe House, Clostown, Togher, had also been injured but not as badly as Mr Moroney.
Mr Moroney said he had obviously been heavily medicated, probably with morphine, by the time he recovered consciousness at Santa Maria Hospital. He remembered, following an operation, having been shown the grip and part of a broken golf shaft which the surgeon told him he had removed from the back of his head.
He had been left with a permanent three inch scar at the base of his scalp and had significant soft tissue injuries to his face, arms, shoulder, shins, ribs and chest.
“The bruising around my left eye was so bad that I looked like something out of The Elephant Man movie,” the 53-year-old 20 handicap golfer told the court.
“Even today I suffer pain in my left knee especially during the onset of cold weather. I strap it up and take painkillers if necessary when playing golf.”
Mark Lawless (49) said he had been knocked out in the crash and found his unconscious friends Michael and John on top of him. He had been covered in blood.
“I saw the driver climb out of a window and disappear. The car was on its side and Michael and John were unconscious. My left knee had swollen to the size of a football,” he said.
Mr Lawless said he had a handicap of 18 at the time of the accident but now played to a handicap of 14.
Mr Lynch (53) said he had been a front seat passenger and after having recovered consciousness found the driver and one of the back seat passengers on top of him. He was covered in blood.
“I thought the car was on fire because of a burning smell. I climbed out of a window and stood on top of the overturned car, jumped and crawled away,” he told the court.
Lynch said it was an unbelievable, frightening experience and to this day he would experience back spasm. He had played golf three or four times a week before the accident but had never returned to playing the game.
Barrister Cormac MacNamara, who appeared with Robert Laffan of Harrison O’Dowd Solicitors, raised a legal point on the question of whether or not the court would be restricted under Spanish law in its assessment of damages and Judge Groarke reserved judgment on all issues.
The Co Louth golfers had sued two Spanish car insurance companies.