Wednesday 18 October 2017

'We always taught Luke sharing is caring... this is the ultimate example' - parents of boy (6) who saved four lives with organ donation

System failed 'super hero son' killed in hit and run, say parents

Luke O'Donovan who was killed in a traffic accident in Ballymacoda, Co. Cork 16/04/14
Luke O'Donovan who was killed in a traffic accident in Ballymacoda, Co. Cork 16/04/14
Jo and Stephen O'Donovan, parents of Luke O'Donovan who was killed in a traffic accident in Ballymacoda, Co. Cork 16/04/14
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The parents of a "super-hero" six-year-old boy who died after a hit and run collision said it was a "spark of light" and a "comfort" when he saved four people's lives through organ donation.

Stephen and Josephine O'Donovan lost their only child, Luke (6), in the 2014 collision and issued the appeal as they said they didn't want any other Irish family to suffer their devastation.

After their son died in the hit and run, the heartbroken parents agreed to donate his organs - and four people underwent successful life-saving transplants.

"We always taught Luke that caring is sharing or sharing is caring. I suppose this was the ultimate example of that," Mr O'Donovan said.

Stephen and Josephine O’Donovan, parents of Luke O’Donovan who was killed in a traffic accident in Ballymacoda in 2014. Picture: Provision
Stephen and Josephine O’Donovan, parents of Luke O’Donovan who was killed in a traffic accident in Ballymacoda in 2014. Picture: Provision

"He is our little super hero now and he would have loved that. It (the organ donations) is a spark of light - it is a comfort."

The motorist involved, Edmond Walsh (51), of Ballyherode, Ballymacoda, Co Cork, received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was banned from driving for 10 years arising from the incident in Ballymacoda on April 16, 2014

Mr Walsh pleaded guilty before Cork Circuit Criminal Court last May to failing to remain at the scene of an accident and failing to offer assistance to someone who had been hurt in an accident. He has since vowed never to drive again.

Luke's father was fixing his car's radio at his home when he heard the sound of what he thought was a car door being loudly banged shut.

Luke O'Donovan
Luke O'Donovan

"I looked left and I saw something falling from the sky. It hit the footpath and rolled over twice. I realised that it was Luke," he said.

As he desperately tried to aid his son, the car involved - a silver Ford Focus - drove off despite the anguished father shouting for it to stop.

Mr Walsh later insisted to Gardaí he was driving under the speed limit and could not avoid the collision.

Coroner Philip Comyn heard Mr Walsh, a farm labourer, had suffered traumatic brain injuries as a result of two serious falls in the 1980s and in 2006.

A garda said he had "pedantic and child-like" responses.

Mr Walsh had restricted movement to one arm and one leg, requiring him to drive a specially adapted vehicle.

Despite this, he had a driving license first issued in 1989 and which was valid until 2016.

It was reissued in 2010 without Mr Walsh having to re-sit his driving test or without having to undergo any specialist medical assessment.

"We don't want any other family in our situation," Mr O'Donovan said.

"But you can roll the clock back and ask was this person even fit to be on the road? If he had been flagged earlier he might not even have been driving that day at that place. The system failed."

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and recommended that details of the case be brought to the attention of the Road Safety Authority, National Driver Licence Service, Insurance Ireland and the Irish Medical Organisation.

Mrs O'Donovan said it was clear the driver's cognitive functions were impaired. "This man, I would say, has the mentality of a child. He ran home to tell his dad, he got home to tell his dad. But Luke didn't get home to tell his," she said.

Irish Independent

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