Monday 14 October 2019

'Denise - come back to me': mother found body of daughter lying in road

Accident: Denise Crowley was killed crossing the road at a notorious Kerry spot
Accident: Denise Crowley was killed crossing the road at a notorious Kerry spot

Ralph Riegel

A mother wept as she told an inquest she was horrified to realise that a dark object lying in the middle of a busy Kerry road was her daughter.

A Killarney Coroner's Court inquest heard that Denise Crowley (26) suffered fatal injuries when she was hit by a car as she tried to cross the road at a notorious spot at Glenflesk to meet her mother for a ride home.

The inquest heard both the driver and pedestrian's visibility could have been restricted by the shadow of a street sign - and a senior garda said he couldn't understand how a 100kmh speed limit was in place at such a built-up area.

Kerry County Council had sought a reduced speed limit for some time - and, with Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), will now implement local traffic calming measures.

Ms Crowley's mother, Grace, was travelling to Glenflesk at 7pm on December 1, 2017 to collect her daughter from University College Cork (UCC).

It was a dark evening with both fog and heavy showers.

"Something black was in the middle of the road," she said. "(I wondered) was it a body? I could then see the body in the middle of the road. A person was trying to turn the body over. I could then see that it was my daughter."

One eye-witness described how Grace Crowley was later beside her daughter's body as people desperately worked to stabilise the young woman and was crying out: "Denise -come back to me."

Coroner Aisling Quilter was told by Garda Damien Calnan the incident was caught on CCTV camera, which indicated the driver had just half a second to react to Ms Crowley walking onto the road.

Gda Calnan said that Ms Crowley got off the Cork bus, waited for a period, appeared to recognise a parked car, adjusted the hood of her coat and then walked out into the roadway without having looked to her right.

The driver, Gerard Hourgian, broke down in evidence as he agreed with the coroner that he had only a split second to react that evening. "Shock - it was literally shock," he wept.

Garda James O'Brien said: "It does not appear to me that she had any comprehension of the proximity of that car."

The car involved was travelling at between 51kmh and 60kmh in a 100kmh zone.

There were no aggravating factors and the vehicle involved was in very good condition.

"It was travelling well below the posted speed limit. The driver had very little time to react to what happened," he said. "I don't believe the driver had sufficient time or room to avoid the pedestrian."

Ms Quilter recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Irish Independent

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