'The car was hopping ... I begged them to slow down'
Survivor tells inquest of fatal crash
Published 27/04/2011 | 05:00
THE sole survivor of a horrific crash that claimed the lives of four other teenagers has said the car in which they were travelling was going so fast it was "hopping" off the road.
Darragh Jones was giving evidence yesterday at the inquests into the deaths of David Breen (17), his brother Kevin (15), David's girlfriend Aine O'Riordan (15) and Brian Coffey (19), who were killed in a single-vehicle accident near Killarney, Co Kerry, last August.
Mr Jones broke down in tears as he told the inquest how he asked his friends to slow down and put on their seatbelt before the deadly crash.
South Kerry Coroner Terence Casey called for speed limitators to be fixed on to vehicles being driven by young people to help stop the "senseless loss of life".
The 2000-registered silver Hyundai Accent car in which the five friends were travelling spun out of control on a severe bend at Carrigeen outside Barraduff on the main N72 Killarney to Mallow road, plunged down an embankment and embedded itself into a tree.
The car had been travelling at a speed of between 99 and 110kmh when the accident occurred at 7.15am on August 25, the inquest heard.
The teens had set out from the Breen family's home at Hazelwood Drive, where they had collected Kevin Breen.
The others had been out all night and had attended a number of house parties. However, none of the teenagers was drunk and David Breen who had been driving the car, only had an alcohol reading of 47mg of alcohol. The legal limit is 80.
"Brian Coffey and David Breen were on about going for a drive. I didn't really want to and tried to convince them not to," Mr Jones told the inquest.
"The five of us went out and got into the car and Brian Coffey was driving. He was driving flat out and the car was hopping. I don't know how far we went. I kept my head down," he said.
At some point David Breen and Brian Coffey swapped positions and Mr Breen took over the driving. He said Mr Breen continued to drive "flat out" and the car was "hopping". "I told him to slow down and I told Brian Coffey to put on his seat belt. Me and Aine O'Riordan had ours on.
"We passed a lorry and I don't remember anything else until I woke up in A&E at Kerry General Hospital," he said.
He said he did not know any of the other occupants of the car well except for Brian Coffey, whom he had seen around Killarney.
Mr Jones said he did not know what time it was when they went for a drive except that it was bright.
The Hyundai car in which the teenagers were travelling was registered to John Fleming Crash Repairs and had been lent to another teenager, Kyle O'Connor while his own car was being repaired.
Garda public service vehicle inspector James O'Brien who examined the wreck said it had been in a good mechanical condition prior to the accident.
Kyle O'Connor said he had thrown the keys on a table at the house party they were attending and they were taken by Brian Coffey who said he was taking it "for a spin".
The driver of the car, David Breen, from Hazelwood Drive, Ballyspillane in Killarney, and his brother Kevin, who was a rear seat passenger, were pronounced dead at the scene.
Medics who attended the scene of the accident performed CPR on Aine O'Riordan, from St John's Park, Castleisland, who was also pronounced dead at the scene.
Brian Coffey, from Fossa, Killarney and Darragh Jones from Farranfore, Co Kerry, were removed by ambulance to Kerry General Hospital, where Mr Coffey later died as a result of his injuries.
The jury recorded a verdict of death by misadventure for David Breen. Verdicts of death as a result of an accident were recorded for his three passengers. All four teenagers had died from severe injures sustained in the crash.