Thursday 19 April 2018

Ambulance narrowly missed airplane on runway, court hears

Roselyn O'Neill Photo: Collins Courts
Roselyn O'Neill Photo: Collins Courts

Saurya Cherfi

A Dublin Airport ambulance driver, who thought her ambulance was going to be struck by a Ryanair plane as it was taking off, is suing the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) for psychological injuries she allegedly suffered.

Roselyn O'Neill told the Circuit Civil Court that on July 14, 2013 she had been given permission to cross the airfield by the air traffic control.

She had been about to cross a runway when she saw the plane coming and about to take off.

She told her barrister, Paul Andrew Gallagher, that she slammed on the ambulance brakes, shouting through her radio that she was stopping her vehicle. She said that shortly after she had stopped, the air traffic controller told her to hold her position.

Ms O'Neill, of Beaverstown Orchard, Donabate, Co Dublin, said she felt the plane had been only metres away and if she had not stopped the ambulance, she would have hit the aircraft.

Paul Romeril, a forensic engineer giving evidence on Ms O'Neill's behalf, said if she had continued driving, she would have just passed the back of the 35 metre-long airplane.

He said the avoidance of an accident could have been a matter of seconds.

Mr Gallagher said she had continued working that day but two months later had developed psychological injuries, which included suffering flashbacks of the incident.

Ms O'Neill said she was still taking antidepressant medication prescribed by her doctor. She said she had needed to take time off work and was now suing the IAA, which is in charge of air traffic control at the airport. She alleged negligence on their behalf. Barrister Paul Fogarty, for the Aviation Authority, said his client denied liability. It claimed that although there had been an error, the plane had been 86 metres away from Ms O'Neill when she stopped.

Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke, prior to defence witnesses being called, adjourned the case for a psychiatrist to give evidence of Ms O'Neill's injuries.

Earlier, he dismissed Ms O'Neill's employer, Dublin Airport Authority, as a defendant in the case.

Irish Independent

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