Monday 19 August 2019

'I saw Michael lying on the kerb' - Family of teen (18) who died in car crash urge people to wear seatbelts

Emergency department at Beaumont
Emergency department at Beaumont

Louise Roseingrave

A coroner is to call on the Road Safety Authority to launch a new campaign highlighting the importance of seat belts following the death of a teenager in a road crash.

A jury at the inquest into the death of Longford teen Michael Warren (18) made the recommendation after hearing harrowing evidence of the car crash that killed him.

The young man was thrown from the back seat of a car that crashed at Ballymackeegan, outside Longford around 3.50am on August 9 2015.

His devastated father told how his dying son grabbed his hand in hospital less than two hours after the crash.

“He grabbed my left hand and squeezed it tightly and pulled me with some force towards him,” Michael Warren Snr said.

Michael Jnr was one of a number of passengers in the car driven by a learner driver under the influence of alcohol and was not wearing his seat belt at the time.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the family’s ‘fervent wish’ is that the tragedy of Michael’s death can prevent further loss of life.

“The family want the message to go out loud and clear that seat belts save lives,” solicitor Roger Murray said, speaking on the family’s behalf.

Michael Jnr, from Castle Park, Newtownforbes, Co Longford was a promising GAA player and member of the Longford minor panel. He had just completed his Leaving Certificate and his ambition was to study electrical engineering at college.

The inquest heard the VW Bora that was speeding in excess of 100kmph when it crashed.

“Conor (the driver) was flying it up the road. I squeezed Michael’s knee, he was going so fast. Michael asked him to slow down,” Michael's girlfriend Aideen Byrne said.

“I heard a bang, Conor lost control and the car spun twice. I saw Michael lying on the kerb,” she said.

Michael was moving and talking initially but had deteriorated before arriving at Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar at 5.18am.

“Michael was telling me he loved me. Closer to Mullingar he began to mumble,” Miss Byrne said.

A scan revealed a head injury and the patient was transferred to Beaumont Hospital.

Michael did not recover from an operation to remove a clot from his brain and died the following day, August 10. The cause of death was severe head injuries consistent with a motor vehicle collision.

Driver Conor Hayes, who is currently serving a three year sentence for dangerous driving causing death, was speeding ‘at a minimum of 110kmph’ when he lost control of the car, Garda Brendan Lee said. He was on his second learner driver permit and was five times the legal alcohol limit for provisional drivers when the crash occurred. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the findings of the criminal court.

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