Thursday 22 August 2019

Boy (7) who died after horror crash that also killed mother donated heart to toddler

An inquest has heard how a boy who died nine days after a horror crash that also killed his mother donated his organs to a number of recipients

Emma O'Keeffe was killed after her car collided with a truck on January 13 2017
Emma O'Keeffe was killed after her car collided with a truck on January 13 2017

Elaine Keogh

A mother was bringing her sick son to hospital when their car crashed into an articulated truck killing them both, an inquest heard.

Drogheda Coroner’s Court also heard that despite the appalling tragedy the family suffered, they had donated the young boys’ organs.

Among the recipients is a 2 year old boy who received his heart and is now doing well, the inquest was told yesterday.

Emma O’Keeffe (26) had collected Daniel (7) after his school rang to say he was not feeling well on the 12th January this year.

She took him to their GP who advised bringing him to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.

Emma was driving there from their home at Railway View, Nobber, County Meath when their car crossed onto the incorrect side of the road between Nobber and Navan.

A Garda Forensic Collision investigator, Thomas Brennan, said the accident happened at 1pm and dash cam footage from the cab of the Scania lorry showed that in less than 2 seconds the car had crossed onto the lorry’s side of the road.

As a result of the impact the steering locked and the lorry driver lost control of the vehicle which had been in a safe position on its correct side of the road. 

He had tried to take action to avoid the crash.

It happened on a straight stretch of road just after a gentle bend and the Garda said that the footage shows the car first veered into the centre of the road although it was still on its correct (southbound) side.

However it then crosses completely onto its incorrect side of the road and collided with the lorry.

It appears that the car maintained a straight line and did not attempt to turn left or right.

Garda Brennan said it happened in less than 2 seconds.

He concluded that “a brief lapse in concentration by the driver (Mrs O’Keeffe) was the cause of the collision.”

In reply to Mr Cathal O’Currain, for the family, the garda said that accident happened “within two seconds,” and the lapse in concentration would have been “miniscule.”

Mrs O’Keeffe died the following day in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda from multiple injuries as a result of the crash.

The inquest heard her son had died 9 days later (22nd January) in Temple Street Children’s hospital from severe head injuries.

He had complained of feeling light-headed and in the GP referral letter to the hospital, which was found in the car by her husband Robin after the accident, it was said that his mum Emma was demonstrating similar symptoms.

Temple Street Children’s Hospital confirmed later that Daniel had tested positive for Influenza A virus.

Coroner Mr Ronan Maguire expressed his “heart felt condolences to the family,” saying “it was an appalling tragedy.”

He said it happened in a matters of seconds but commented that “even in their grief” the family had consented to organ donation.

Daniel’s pancreas, adrenal glands, liver, heart and kidney had all been donated.

Mr Maguire outlined that Daniel’s heart had gone to a 2 year old boy who is now doing well.  His liver had gone to another boy while one of his kidneys was given to a mother who is also doing very well.

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