Monday 24 October 2016

Wheelchair user died after being struck by truck at busy city junction - inquest

Louise Roseingrave

Published 26/08/2015 | 15:52

The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.
The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.

A wheelchair user crossing a Dublin city junction was struck by a truck and died four days later, an inquest heard.

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James Owens (87) of Blackhorse Grove, Dublin 7 died of organ failure, sepsis, pneumonia and multiple rib fractures, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

Mr Owens was making his way across a junction connecting the North Circular Road to the Old Cabra Road on September 30 2014 at around 4pm when the accident happened.

He regularly met friends at Hanlon’s pub and frequently used the pedestrian crossing at the junction, Mr Owens' daughter Linda Mangan said.

Truck driver William McKeown had delivered a consignment of eggs to Kilmainham and was returning to Co Cavan when the incident happened.

“I checked my mirrors and blind spots, the road in front of me was clear. The lights were green allowing me to turn left,” Mr McKeown said. Traffic was moving slowly and he continued to monitor his mirrors and the road ahead as he waited behind a van for a break in the traffic.

When the van moved off, the truck moved forward through the junction, as Mr Owens proceeded to cross the road. Mr Owens was knocked out of his wheelchair.

The driver of the 24ft rigid truck said he was not aware of the incident until he saw a female cyclist gesturing to him.

He stopped the truck. Asked if he had seen Mr Owens at any point he said “Absolutely not.”

An ambulance was called and Mr Owens was taken to the Mater Hospital.

The self employed truck driver continued his journey to Cavan because he believed he was not involved in the accident. He subsequently heard an appeal for witnesses to the accident and went to his local Garda station. He told Coroner Dr Brian Farrell he had since stopped driving the truck.

“I’m looking for a wheelchair every time I turn a junction,” he said.

Sgt Paul Kearney said he was unable to say what colour the traffic lights were at the junction but the crossing includes a pedestrian crossing light that activates on demand.

Members of the Owens family reacted with shock to CCTV footage of the incident, which the coroner stated shows the truck ‘clearly strikes the wheelchair.’

Public Service Vehicle inspector Garda Kevin Jones found no faults or defects during his examination of the truck. 

Mr Owens, who suffered from a number of health problems including diabetes and angina, died at the Mater Hospital on October 3. The inquest was provisionally adjourned until November 26,   pending submission of additional medical evidence.

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