High Court settlement for fatal crash survivor

Published 08/07/2014 | 05:30

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A CO. Wexford man suffered post traumatic stress disorder after a fatal road traffic accident involving a van and a road-marking lorry in which he was a passenger, the High Court heard in Waterford.

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Garry Blake (32), a father of three from 5 Mayview Park, Oulart, settled his claim for damages arising out of the fatal crash in which the van driver Tony O'Brien (30), a plumber and part-time barman from Bunclody, lost his life in the collision at a bend near Ballywilliam, New Ross, on October 22, 2009. The amount of the settlement involved was not disclosed in court.

Describing the accident, Mr. Blake said that when returning home from Waterford with a work colleague, they came to a detour on the Enniscorthy Road and had to drive along a back road.

At a bend in the road, the lorry was involved in a bad collision with an oncoming van. The van driver, Tony O'Brien, was seriously injured and was later pronounced dead at Waterford Regional Hospital.

The plaintiff said his knee was injured but after a check-up he was discharged from hospital with pain killers and returned to work after a week. The fatal accident left him shocked and suffering from sleep disturbance for a 12 month period.

He started drinking up to 12 bottles of Heineken a night and his behaviour deteriorated and he started 'lashing out' at home.

During theses incidents he would pick up stuff and throw it across the room and punch the door or wall and kick a chair out of the way.

Everything got on top of him and he wanted to get it out of his head and on a couple of occasions he threatened to commit suicide.

In May 2011, he attended a birthday party in Marty's Pub near Oulart and a 'couple of the lads' came up to his house the next morning and he drank between ten and fifteen bottles of beer from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

All he was thinking of was the fatal accident and could not get it out of his head. Everything built up in his head and he 'lashed out' by punching the wall and a chair.

The punch broke two bones in his right hand, which was put in a cast in Wexford General Hospital, and from where he was referred to the fracture clinic in Waterford.

An operation to fuse the bones failed and he had to have another graft operation. Since then, he was unable to work although he liked his job and it was still available with his employers, Colin Hearne Road Marking Contractors, of Ballygarron, Kilmuckridge.

Replying to questions, the Plaintiff said he was so upset by the fatality that he could not attend the funeral.

He suffered flashbacks and became emotional and was smoking 60 cigarettes a day. Pressure built up and he became irritable, moody and aggressive and felt he was likely to hit somebody and he punched the wall in a 'fit of temper'. He did not have an anger problem, he said.

The plaintiff's partner, Sinead Fortune, said the fatal accident changed him from a funny man to someone who was 'completely broken'.

He went into a shell and became moody, erratic and locked himself away and pushed the kids away.

He smashed phones, remote controls and the vacuum cleaner. Drink did not help and when he became quiet she knew he was going to 'flip'.

He threatened suicide and sent her an alarming text saying he loved her and was sorry and would be looking down from the clouds on them.

During a search, he was found on Kilmuckridge beach. After a second suicide attempt, he was found in the back of a van.

Psychologist Penny Rogers said the plaintiff was still experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and there was concern for his mental health.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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