Sunday 17 December 2017

Inquest hears crash victim not wearing seatbelt at time of tragedy

Tallaght hospital
Tallaght hospital

Gareth Naughton

A 26-year-old man who suffered fatal injuries after his car crashed into a tour bus was not wearing a seat belt at the time, an inquest heard.

Niall Lynham from Laragh, Co Wicklow, died at Tallaght Hospital on June 15 last year, the day after the accident near Devil’s Glen in the townland of Ballmaghroe, Ashford, Co Wicklow.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the stretch of road where the accident happened is on a steep incline and has a number of corners on it. The dead man’s father Shay Lynham said that it is very narrow and you never see buses on it. “It is very unsafe for a bus or anything of that size on that road especially with the speed limit,” he said.

His son was very familiar with the road, he added.

The incident happened just after 1pm. The bus was carrying a group of American students who were on a scenic tour to Wicklow Jail and Glendalough. Tour guide Helen Delahunty said the coach was travelling “very, very slowly” up the hill. “I felt to myself, in retrospect, that we would have been quicker walking up the hill,” she said.

She was sitting in the jump seat of the coach and saw a car suddenly appear at the bend of the road, travelling “downhill, very fast”, she said, before losing control and crashing into the right side of the bus.

Coach driver John O’Connor said that he saw the car coming toward them in a straight line for a “considerable distance” and he knew it was going to hit the bus so he turned it toward the ditch and stopped. When the car struck, the bus rolled back.

Mr Lynham’s passenger Zuzana Klobucnikova, who owned the car, stumbled out of the vehicle immediately before collapsing on the ground. She was taken to hospital by ambulance.  Mr Lynham was taken to Tallaght Hospital by helicopter where he subsequently died.

The scene was inspected by public service vehicle inspector Garda Adrian Tucker and in his report to the court he concluded  that the accident occurred when the car travelling downhill crossed over the road and collided head on with the coach. The road was very wet at the time and this was a contributory factor in the accident. He was unable to estimate the speed that the car was travelling at. Mr Lynham was not wearing a seatbelt at the time, however, his passenger was.

Sergeant Patrick Carroll attended the scene and, when asked by the coroner whether the 80 kilometre per hour speed limit on the road is high, he said: “it is very fast, a lot of the speed limits in this country are wrong anyway”.

He said that tour buses do use the road. 

The postmortem gave the cause of death as severe head and neck injuries consistent with involvement in a road traffic incident.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said that three patients had benefitted from organ donation following Mr Lynham’s death.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure and made a recommendation that a weight and width restriction be considered for the road.

Irish Independent

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