Thursday 20 July 2017

My girl died on temporary road with no warning signs, says dad

Brian McDonald

A YOUNG woman was killed when her van suddenly went out of control and collided with a cement lorry on a temporary road that had no advance warning signs, an inquest heard yesterday.

Ashling Gallagher (22) was killed instantly in the collision at Murrivaugh, Mulranny, Co Mayo, on December 22, 2004.

A subsequent investigation by her father, Thomas Gallagher, revealed that the road surface on which Ashling died was comprised only of a base course of dense bitumen macadam.

Mr Gallagher, who has over 30 years' experience in road construction, told his daughter's inquest in Castlebar he had been informed by the Mayo Co Council engineer in charge of the road that it was not complete and a surface of "tar and chips" was to be applied.

Mr Gallagher said that he had travelled the road over the two days before Ashling's death and did not see any warning signs.

But five days later, a total of 14 warning signs, including two large solar powered flashing signs warning motorists to reduce speed and slow down, were erected at the accident location.

On the day of her accident, Ashling, from Askill, Achill, had collected her sister from school and went to a garage to have the oil, water and tyre pressure checked on the red VW Caddy.

"Ashling's nature was one of caution, caring and diligence -- she is an irreplaceable loss," Mr Gallagher said.

Two garda witnesses and a number of motorists said that they had not seen any warning signs leading to the location.

Two Mayo Co Council construction workers said that there had been a 'Men-at-Work' sign located about three-quarters of a mile from the stretch of road where Ashling was killed.

The inquest was told that seven traffic accidents had occurred at the location in the previous three years.

Swerved

Truck driver Tom Munster told the inquest he recalled seeing the red Caddy come around a bend towards him on the correct side of the road. He was travelling at about 50-55kmh.

"Then, for no apparent reason, the Caddy van completely crossed the white line . . . I braked and swerved to my left immediately, but in an instant, the Caddy van had come straight under the front of my lorry," Mr Munster said.

Road safety and health and safety experts are due to give evidence to the inquest today.

Irish Independent

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