Sunday 21 January 2018

'He wouldn't settle, so I had to take him in my hands while driving' - inquest

Mother's grief after three-month-old baby died in her arms after airbag inflated in collision

At the scene of the crash in 2014 was baby Paddy Francis' grandfather, Martin Maughan
At the scene of the crash in 2014 was baby Paddy Francis' grandfather, Martin Maughan

Louise Roseingrave

A three-month-old baby travelling in his mother's arms as she drove to the shop died after an airbag deployed following a collision.

Paddy Francis Maughan, of St Margaret's Park, Finglas, was rushed to Temple Street Children's University Hospital, where he died two days later.

"My life's been turned upside-down since that day," the child's father, Peter Maughan, said at an inquest into his son's death.

"I had my moments with him, I used to give him baby dinners and feed him while we watched the World Cup. I lost my family."


Baby Paddy Francis was initially in a child seat on the front passenger seat, but his mother, Theresa Maughan, took him in her arms as she drove.

"He wouldn't settle, so I had to take him in my hands while I was driving," she said in her deposition.

Her older son, Peter, was in his seat in the back as she drove her Nissan Micra on the wrong side of the road along Hampton Wood Avenue, an estate off St Margaret's Road.

Mrs Maughan, who was not present in court, said she has suffered with depression since the death of her baby.

Her 2001 Micra was in a collision with a 2010 VW Polo driven by Hampton Wood resi- dent Blanca Doyle at around 2.50pm on August 9 last year.

Mrs Doyle, travelling with her son and her mother, was making a right turn from Hampton Wood Green on to Hampton Wood Avenue when the two cars collided.

"I saw this car driving slowly towards us in my lane. I presumed she was going to react, but she was not stopping," said Mrs Doyle.

"I pressed the horn and flashed the lights. I did everything I could to get her attention, to let her know she was on the wrong side of the road."

Forensic Collision Investigator Gda Edward Davin said it was a low-speed, low-impact collision, but the force was enough to deploy the airbag in the Micra.

Mrs Maughan was not wearing her seatbelt, meaning she and Paddy Francis were both travelling forward at the same speed as the car when the airbag deployed and struck them.

The airbag inflated at a speed of 320kmph in 0.3 seconds before deflating, said Gda Davin.

"If the driver of any vehicle was not wearing a seat belt they would move forward to meet the airbag and the resulting impact would be forceful," he said.

Witnesses told how Mrs Maughan "rolled out of the car on to the grass" clutching her baby in her hands, screaming: "My baby! My baby!"

"It was the airbag killed that child in the car," Mr Maughan said from the public gallery at Dublin Coroner's Court.

"There were babies in both cars and I lost a son."

Gardai found an anomaly in the signage at the junction, which instructs motorists exiting Hampton Wood Green on to Hampton Wood Avenue to both stop and yield.

The management company responsible was informed of the confusing signage following the accident.


Baby Paddy Francis was rushed to Temple Street, but was unconscious on arrival. He had sustained extensive head injuries, including brain swelling as a result of the crash, along with broken ribs and a broken left arm.

Dr Owen Hensey said the neurological team felt no intervention could help the child, and together with Paddy Francis's parents the decision was made to switch off life-support two days later.

The cause of death was cranio-cerebral trauma as a result of a road traffic accident, according to pathologist Dr Deirdre Devaney.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure, taking into account risk factors outlined by coroner Dr Brian Farrell, including the lack of a seatbelt and the fact the child was travelling in its mother's arms.


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