'Speed kills'

Published 11/02/2014 | 05:40

The scene of the fatal crash near Sooey in March 2013 which claimed the lives of Declan McCormack and Owen Kelly.

"This accident shocked Sligo and Leitrim to the core.

"Two hardworking young men lost their lives.

"What can one say in circumstances like this, only that young people should be very aware that speed kills."

Coroner Dr Desmond Moran's words at the inquest into the deaths of two young friends following a fatal car crash in county Sligo in March of last year.

Declan McCormack (22) from Ballinarry, Riverstown and Owen Kelly (20) from Greagnafarna, Dromahair, both front seat passengers, were killed instantly when their car hit a tree at Rooghan, Sooey on March 2nd.

Jordan Charters, from Scracomer, Dromahair, a backseat passenger, was the sole survivor of the accident.

All three were planning a night out in nearby Ballygawley.

Mr Charters said in a deposition that he was working with Owen Kelly on a gearbox in Mr Kelly's shed on the day of the accident.

They finished at 11pm, he went home to change to go out and later drove to Mr Kelly's house.

Both Owen and Declan were getting into Mr McCormack's car, a white Toyota Starlet Glanza.

Jordan got into the back. It was around 11.40pm.

"We headed off for Kelly's pub in Ballygawley, we were going to have a few pints.

"I didn't put on my seat belt.

"Declan McCormack was driving very fast from the moment we left Kelly's house.

"He was doing 60, 70 up to 80 miles an hour on this narrow road."

Mr Charters said that the car hit a bump, and it just about stayed on the road.

When the car hit a second bump, it became airborne and he saw the tree coming and felt a bang.

"When I opened my eyes, I could feel blood on my head as I looked around I could see the lights of the car on and hear the fan going. "

He was sitting halfway out the back window, on the window ledge.

His upper body was outside the car and his feet were trapped behind the front seat.

He got out his phone and sent a text to Gavin Kelly to ring him, saying that they had crashed.

He felt dizzy and was beginning to drift off.

He noticed he had three missed calls from Gavin Kelly.

He dialled 999 and got through to Sligo Garda Station where he gave directions to where they were.

"The guard told me to keep talking, but I said I have to go and rest and I was getting tired."

A car was coming and he heard a woman shouting.

He recognised the voice as Christine Ewing.

"I remember the ambulance driver asking me my name and where I was from. The next thing I recall was the roof being cut off the car."

He said that they left Owen Kelly's house close to 11.30pm and the accident happened within two or three minutes of this.

Sergeant Gerard Murphy and Garda Williams from Ballymote Garda Station arrived at the scene.

Two firebrigades and three ambulances were also at the scene.

A white Toyota Starlet Glanza was lying in a field beside a tree within a few feet of the road.

Sergeant Murphy said that he checked if there was any evidence of cattle or deer on the road and there wasn't.

Garda Hugh McCann, forensic investigator from Sligo Garda Station said that he examined the scene of the accident.

The speed limit on the stretch of road was 80Km/h.

He said that it was a narrow road, measuring 2.9m in width and in poor condition in places.

He concluded that the passenger side of the car entered the verge, the car rotated clockwise, crossing the road and the passenger side collided with the tree.

He said driving conditions were good at the time.

Garda PJ Gallagher, PSV inspector, said the car was in a serviceable condition prior to the accident.

Dr Clive Kilgallen, pathologist, found that both men died from severe injuries as a result of a road traffic accident.

There was no alcohol present.

Dr Desmond Moran said that whatever chance a car has going into a field, when a tree is there it is fatal.

He said that Sligo County Council had since erected signs along the road indicating that it was uneven.

He expressed his sympathy to both Declan McCormack and Owen Kelly's families, as did Sergeant Philip Maree on behalf of the Gardaí.

Sligo Champion

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