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Monday 22 September 2014

Inquest finds no link between car crash and baby's death

Baby Cara Morrissey delivered at Rotunda Hospital three days after road accident

Published 18/06/2014 | 16:51

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The Coroner's Court in Dublin
The Coroner's Court in Dublin

The inquest of a baby whose heart stopped in the womb within hours of her mother being involved in a car accident found no definite link between the collision and her death.

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Baby Cara Morrissey was delivered at the Rotunda Hospital on May 10 last year, three days after an ultrasound found no heartbeat just over five hours after her mother Elaine Hall was involved in the road accident.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Ms Hall and her husband Kevin Morrissey, of Ballybogan, Glasnevin, Dublin 11, were on their way to view a new home for their family at around 6.20pm on May 6 when the incident happened.

Mr Morrissey, who was driving, said they were on the Old Lucan road in Palmerstown with a “clear lane” ahead of them when a jeep “suddenly” pulled out from a parked position and struck the left side of their car.

He had no time to “avert this dangerous manoeuvre”, he said.

The car bounced up into the air and crossed over the jeep's bonnet. Mr Morrissey described the impact as "violent".

He said that the driver of the other car involved, Roisín Canning, came to the door and “apologised saying ‘I am so sorry, the sun blinded me and I didn’t see ye at all’.

However, Ms Canning denied that her vehicle was moving at the time of the collision.

She was stationary waiting to cross the road so she could reverse back into her driveway when the Morrisseys’ car struck her, she told the court.

She said she spoke to Ms Hall and asked if she was okay before going into her house to report the accident to gardaí.

Ms Hall was taken to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown where a foetal heartbeat was recorded. She was advised to go to the Rotunda for a full check-up.

The couple went straight there and were seen shortly after 1am.

No heartbeat could be found on the first scan carried out at the Rotunda and this was confirmed with a second scan.

Baby Cara was still born following induction.

At post-mortem neonatal pathologist Dr Emma Doyle found that the umbilical cord was hypercoiled with a tight coil at the cord insertion point with the placenta.

Hypercoiled cords have a known association with foetal death due to cord compression. She said in her opinion death was due to a cord “accident” – meaning compression – due to the hypercoiled cord.

When asked about the short time between the accident and the baby’s demise, Dr Doyle said that she could find no definite link between the two but that she could not exclude it entirely.

Gardaí at Ronanstown investigated the incident. Garda Noel Kavanagh said that there were no independent witnesses to the accident and they had been unable to verify what happened. Ms Canning was prosecuted for driving without reasonable consideration, he said.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell told the jury that it was certain that a collision took place but they did not have to resolve the difference between the two accounts of what happened.

The jury returned a narrative verdict outlining the facts, noting that the link between the car accident and the death had neither been established nor ruled out.

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