Monday 14 October 2019

Car which crashed claiming life of 13-year-old driver was 'dangerously defective' - inquest

Morgan Pinder
Morgan Pinder

Tom Shiel

A car which crashed claiming the life of its 13-year-old driver was “dangerously defective”, an inquest was told.

Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin, PSV Inspector for Mayo, said that the car driven by Morgan Pinder had corroded, grooved and worn brake pads and discs.

The vehicle – a 1994 registered Audi 80 – was a "danger to the public" when in motion, Sergeant McLoughlin explained.

However, the Garda officer continued, that while the vehicle was in a dangerously defective condition, the driver may not have been aware of the defects whole driving.

It emerged at the inquest that the vehicle was registered to a deceased priest – who used to minister on Clare Island.

Coroner Patrick O’Connor expressed his deepest sympathy to the Pinder family and wider community on "tragic and traumatic" loss of a youngster in the first few months of his teenage years.

The coroner said he was sure the island community would learn lessons from what had happened.

Emergency services, including gardai, lifeboat members and members of fire personnel from Achill Island, had rushed to Clare Island after the alarm had been raised about the accident in the early hours of August 5 last.

Garda Keith Deane told the inquest that the 13-year-old driver, who was unaccompanied, was trapped between the vehicle and the road when he attended the scene.

There was no lighting on the stretch of road, Garda Deane said. 

"Some earth had been disturbed on the ditch on the road hand side of the road  which would appear to be the first point of impact of the vehicle," the garda noted.

Morgan’s mother Maureen Pinder was the last person to see him prior to the tragedy.

In a deposition to gardai read to the inquest, Mrs Pinder explained she had been out in the island community centre for her sister Martina’s birthday. Morgan came up to her around 12.50am and asked if he could go up to the hotel as his brother had gone up earlier.

"I said it was too late and he should go home," her statement continued.

"I saw Morgan buying a can of coke and heading out the door."

Medical evidence was given to the hearing by Dr Tamas Nemeth, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, that the cause of death was traumatic asphyxia due to lung haemorrhage and crushing force of the chest.

A severe contributory factor, the pathologist continued, was multiple fractures of the skull with brain contusion.

After considering the case for 20 minutes, an inquest jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

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