Thursday 19 January 2017

'Mammy I don’t want to die' - tragic boy (6) told mum after he was struck by a car outside his home

Jury at inquest of boy (6) killed after being struck by car outside his home recommends 30kph speed limit in all housing estates

Conor Kane

Published 31/03/2016 | 19:44

Roseann Brennan (mother) and Chris Brennan (father) pictured at Carlow Court at the inquest into the death of Jake Brennan in Kilkenny in 2014
Roseann Brennan (mother) and Chris Brennan (father) pictured at Carlow Court at the inquest into the death of Jake Brennan in Kilkenny in 2014

The jury at an inquest into the death of a six-year-old boy who was fatally struck by a car outside his home has recommended the introduction of a mandatory 30kph speed limit in all housing estates.

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The call was made after the inquest into the June 2014 death of Jake Brennan from Kilkenny heard how he lay dying in his mother’s arms moments after he was hit by a car.

The jury also called for improved signage in housing estates after it was heard that emergency services had trouble finding the cul-de-sac where Jake lived. It took the ambulance crew four minutes to drive across Kilkenny city to the estate, but a further three minutes to find his Lintown Grove home, while a garda described the area as “a maze”.

Jake died from crush injuries to his chest and abdomen, as a result of being struck by a car,  the jury decided in accordance with medical evidence.

Deputy state pathologist Dr Michael Curtis said the injuries suffered by Jake were “consistent with being run over and dragged by the front bodywork of a vehicle”.

Coroner Dr Brendan Doyle will write to the Department of Transport regarding the riders put on the jury’s verdict regarding a lowering of speed limits in housing estates and improved signage.

Jake’s mother Roseann Brennan said she and her three children had been in McDonagh Junction shopping centre during the evening of June 12, 2014, before returning home to her husband Christopher who was getting their dinner ready.

The children had ice-cream and played in the shopping centre’s play area and Jake said “it’s the best day of my life,” she told the inquest. They were due to go to a show that night.

At home he put on a little show for them and sang a song and the children had their dinner on a little table and chairs in the front lawn.

Her brother-in-law Pat O’Hara arrived to return Christopher’s lawnmower and they chatted for a few minutes and, just as Pat was about to leave, Jake asked his mother if he could go across the road to the green. She was going to say no but said yes, for a few minutes.

She then saw a car and heard a bang, “and I knew,” and screamed “no” and “Jake” and saw him going up into the air and coming down again. “I knew by how far he went up that he was destroyed.”

Roseann ran over to Jake and he was saying “Mammy, Mammy, I’m sorry” and as she held him she told him it wasn’t his fault and he said “Mammy I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die”. Blood came up his throat and she said “you’re okay baby” but his breathing became slower.

The ambulance arrived but, she said, “I knew he was gone and never coming back”.

The paramedics worked on Jake for sometime at the scene, before bringing him to hospital in the ambulance with his parents accompanying them, but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Roseann Brennan told her solicitor Michael Lanigan that she had since campaigned for speed limits in housing estates, currently at 50kph, to be reduced to 20kph and wanted this to be “Jake’s Law” and her son’s legacy.

Christopher Brennan said he made the 999 call after Jake was struck and said to the driver of the car involved “you were speeding,” and she denied it.

He recalled saying to his son in the ambulance, “Jake I know you’re strong, please don’t leave” and said Jake was “the rock of the family”.

The driver of the car that hit Jake, Katarzyna Biala (39) was not well enough to be at the inquest yesterday but a statement she gave to gardaí was read out. She said she wasn’t speeding and never saw Jake from the side, just when her car hit him. “He just flew up in the air a bit. It happened so fast. I don’t know where he came from.” She was “in shock” afterwards.

She also told gardaí she thought she was driving at about 20-30kph.

The inquest heard that, after a major garda investigation and a file being sent to the DPP’s office, a decision was made by the DPP not to bring any prosecution.

Forensic collision investigator Garda Maurice Mahon said that, based on the point of impact outlined by Roseann Brennan and the distance Ms Biala would have travelled from her own house nearby, the car was travelling at between 44kph and 46kph at the time.

Neighbour Michael O’Keeffe, who saw the collision from his front room, told the inquest he felt the car was “going too fast”. Patrick O’Hara said he remembered it “going fairly fast” and his passenger Carl Gleeson said he thought the car was “going a bit fast for an estate”.

Patrick O’Hara also said that the car travelled up to another 70 yards before stopping and he saw Jake “staggering” towards his mother, before collapsing to the ground. Carl Gleeson said he saw Jake coming from “under the car” after the collision.

The coroner said Jake’s death had left “a huge space in the lives of a lot of people,” particularly his parents and family, but his legacy will serve as “a beacon to his memory”.

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