independent

Sunday 20 August 2017

Cyclist died from head injuries

Margart Roddy

A teacher who died as the result of massive brain injuries when his bike crashed as he cycling home from a night out 'always wore a cycling helmet' but none was found at the accident scene, an inquest heard last week.

Colin Torpey, a native of Milltownmalby, Co Clare, had declined offers of a lift home and was cycling home after attending a Poker Classic at Dundalk Golf Club, Blackrock, when the handle bar of his bike came into contact with a tree and he was thrown into air, landing on a concrete footpath.

His body was found hours later in Birches Lane, and was pronounced dead at the scene at 7.38am on April 23 2016.

Forensic collision inspector Sgt James Walshe examined the scene, describing how the road sloped downwards from the entry to the Golf Club.

He told the inquest that there were tyre marks leading to a grass margin on the side of the road which then stopped.

The leaves of daffodils at the base of mature trees were disturbed and broken and he also found broken twigs from the tree.

The soil was also disturbed at the base of the tree and there was a small indentation on the bark of the tree, similar in profile to the handlebar of a cycle,. He also found traces of tree bark on the ring handlebar of the cycle.

He was satisfied that the marks on the tree were made by the handlebar of the cycle.

He examined the red and blue mountain bike which was lying in its left side.

He found vegetation trapped in the left brake and under the front mudguard and the saddle was torn on the left side.

The front lamp was broken. There was no helmet at the scene.

He was also asked to examined a car which had left the golf club later than the cyclist. He found it to be covered in a film of dust which hasn't been disturbed and he found no evidence that it was in a collision.

It was his opinion that the cyclist had travelled from the golf club towards the Dundalk Road and had veered to the left, crossed the kerb and onto a grass margin and the right front handlebar collided with the tree.

The pedal cyclist was thrown upwards, landing on the concrete footpath and the bike tumbled upwards, coming to rest on a grass margin in front of the pedal cyclist.

Pathologist Dr Ryan said that the deceased had an abrasion on his forehead, a laceration on his right ring finger and an abrasion on his left pelvis. There was haemorrhaging to his scalp and he had sustained severe fractures to his skull,

'He would have unconscious immediately with that degree of head injury,' he said.

Toxicology reports showed him to have an alcohol level which was 'significantly' above the legal limit for driving.

Sgt Brendan Keane gave evidence that he had attended an event in the golf club as he was captain the previous year.

There was a charity poker event and he played until he was knocked out.

The contest ended at 1.30am and he then attended a side table game, where Colin Torpey was one of the players.

That game ended at 3am and a few people sat at the bar, including Colin Torpey, the inquest was told.

Sgt Keane said he didn't notice what the deceased was drinking during the night but at that stage he had a pint of lager.

As they were finishing up, Mr Torpey said he would walk across the fields, the inquest was told.

He assumed he lived somewhere near The Meadows and he didn't want him to be cycling home. 'He insisted that he was walking across the field,' Sgt Keane said.

As the lights were turned off and the shutters pulled down, bar worker Lisa shouted to make sure there was no one left in the premises. There was no sign of anyone.

They left at 4.30am, with Lisa giving him a lift in her car. They didn't see anything on the road and assumed that Colin had gone across the fields.

He offered his sympathy to Mr Torpey's family on behalf of the club, saying it was an awful shock to everyone who knew him.

The jury recorded a verdict in accordance with the medal evidence of accidental death due to a head injury.

Coroner Mr Ronan Maguire BL offered his heartfelt condolences to Mr Torpey's family, describing his death as 'a terrible tragedy'.

The jury foreman also offered sympathy and recommended that cyclists should always wear helmets.

Mr Torpey's partner Jennifer commented that this had been 'the one time he didn't wear it, he would normally have worn it and was used to that road'.

The Argus

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