LOOSE chippings on a roadway that had recently been resurfaced by Kerry County Council have been cited as the primary cause of a fatal road accident that claimed the life of Castleisland man James O'Sullivan in September of last year.
Mr O'Sullivan, a father of three in his mid thirties, lost his life when his car went out of control and struck a concrete gate post as he drove from his home at Cahereens heights in Castleisland to his job at Aldi in Killarney shortly after 6am on the morning of September 22 last year.
An inquest into Mr O'Sullivan's death at Tralee Coroners Court last Friday heard that the stretch of road where the accident occurred, close to Kerry Airport at Laharne, Farranfore, had recently been resurfaced by Kerry County Council and there were deposits of loose stones at both sides and in the middle of the roadway.
Tim O'Donoghue, a bakery delivery driver, who was driving about 100 yards behind James O'Sullivan's car when the crash occurred, told the inquest that Mr O'Sullivans car, which he said wasn't travelling "at any great speed," began to wobble and went out of control as it drove around a sweeping bend on the road.
Mr O'Donoghue said James O'Sullivan had apparently tried to regain control but was unable to do so as the car spun around on the road before striking the gate pillar.
He and another driver tried to assist Mr O'Sullivan and contacted gardaí who arrived on the scene around 10 to 15 minutes after the accident occurred.
Forensic Collision Examiner Garda James O'Brien, who examined the scene after the crash, said disturbed stones and chips on the road indicated that Mr O'Sullivan's car had probably gone out of his control when he drove over loose stones that had built up on the left edge of the road following the road resurfacing work.
Garda O'Brien said his examinations showed that James O'Sullivan had initially tried to regain control of his car but encountered further difficulty when the car passed over another pile of stones in the centre of the road causing the car to spin into the pillar, with the driver's door taking the brunt of the impact.
Garda O'Brien said that the accident occurred close to the end of the one kilometre long stretch of resurfaced road.
"The roadworks ended just after the scene of the crash, another 20 feet and he'd have been back on a solid surface," said Garda O'Brien.
The inquest heard that while Mr O'Sullivan's car was travelling below the road's normal speed limit of 100 kmph it was probably going above a revised speed limit of 35 kmph that Kerry County Council had placed on the resurfaced section.
It was also pointed out that several warning signs had been posted at intervals along the approach to the resurfaced road advising drivers of roadworks, the reduced speed limit, loose stones and a lack of road markings.