Wednesday 11 December 2019

Driver said a prayer beside female cyclist after she was struck by his truck, inquest told

Louise Butler, who died following an accident in south Dublin.
Louise Butler, who died following an accident in south Dublin.

Gareth Naughton

The driver of an articulated truck which struck a cyclist fatally injuring her told an inquest that he did not see her before the accident.

Stephen Bolger was giving evidence at Dublin Coroner’s Court at the inquest into the tragic death of Louise Butler (26) of Ranelagh Road, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, who was pronounced dead at St Vincent’s Hospital on August 15 last year, within 30 minutes of being struck.

The incident happened at the junction of Frascati Road and Carysfort Avenue in Blackrock at about 8.40am. Mr Bolger, from Walsh Island, Co Offaly, had just completed a delivery at a nearby Superquinn. His truck was stationary at a red light and indicating that it would be turning left. He said that he checked his mirrors as he was making the turn and he did not see Ms Butler.

“I really did not see her. I checked and I checked. I honestly have no idea where she came from,” he said.

His first indication of the accident was when he felt a “bump, bump, bump”, he said. He ran to Ms Butler and held her hand. “I went down on my knees. I put my hand on her face and I called to her and asked her was she okay. She wasn’t responsive,” he said, “I thought she was still alive. I told her there was an ambulance on the way. I asked her to hang on”.

He remained with her, saying a prayer, until gardaí arrived.

A number of witnesses said that the truck was indicating to turn left at the junction. Bus driver Darren Matthews said when he saw Ms Butler she looked to be “almost underneath” the mirror of the truck and he did not think the driver would have been able to see her. The truck moved out to the right and began turning left, said Mr Matthew. As the truck turned, it made contact with the bike.

“It looked like they were in contact for five or six feet before she fell. I think the bike went under the front wheel of the truck, and the girl went under the back double set of wheels of the cab,” he said.

Passers-by and gardaí carried out CPR on Ms Butler until the paramedics arrived. She was unresponsive and not breathing at the scene and was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after arrival.

At post-mortem, the cause of death was given as multiple traumatic injuries including face and skull fractures.

Garda Edward Davin, forensics collision investigator, said it was not possible to say whether Ms Butler was on the road or on the footpath and entered onto the road as the accident happened. The court heard that a small repeater indicator bulb was not working on the truck but there were two other sets of indicators.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that the court had dealt with “many” cases where cyclists have lost their lives at the side of high-sided vehicles turning left and this has been addressed in the rules of the road for cyclists, he said. Mirrors on the trucks have “largely” eliminated blind spots on turning, he said.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Irish Independent

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