Friday 15 December 2017

Inquest on mum and daughter's drowning deaths in flooded ditch adjourned as file sent to DPP

Gardaí on the Kilworth to Ballyduff Road, Co Cork, near the scene of the road traffic collision that killed Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise (inset above). Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Gardaí on the Kilworth to Ballyduff Road, Co Cork, near the scene of the road traffic collision that killed Geraldine Clancy and her daughter Louise (inset above). Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Tragic Louise Clancy, who died with her mother Geraldine in a freak accident close to their home
Tragic Geraldine Clancy, who died with her daughter Louise in a freak accident close to their home
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A MOTHER and daughter drowned after a Christmas shopping trip ended in tragedy when their car ploughed into a flooded ditch following a collision with another vehicle.

The revelation came as a Cork coroner's inquest into the deaths last Christmas of Louise Ann Clancy (22) and her mother, Geraldine (58), was adjourned on the application of the Gardai after it was confirmed a file on the incident has now been submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Inspector Joe O'Connor confirmed to Cork North Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy that the file on the December 22 incident has been completed and submitted to the DPP for consideration as to what action, if any, will now result.

Dr Kennedy agreed to adjourn the inquest under Section 25 (1) of the Coroners Act, 1962 after outline evidence was heard.

Cork farmer Noel Clancy, who lost his wife and daughter in the tragedy, attended the inquest in Mallow and was supported by family members and friends.

Mr Clancy was one of the first people to attend the accident scene at Ballyderown on the Ballyduff to Fermoy Road shortly after 11am on December 22.

The accident occurred less than 1km from the Clancy family farm with the mother and daughter the only occupants of the family's Ford car.

Dr Kennedy directed that only an extract from Mr Clancy's garda statement be read into evidence yesterday.

That related to the farmer identifying the bodies of his wife and daughter at the scene to attending gardai.

Inspector O'Connor read out statements from Sergeant James Hallahan and Det Garda Denis Ryan both of whom responded to the accident alert that morning.

Both confirmed that they received reports of a two vehicle collision at Ballyderown shortly after 11am.

Tragically, despite emergency services racing to the scene, both Geraldine and Louise Ann Clancy were pronounced dead before they could be rushed to hospital.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster conducted post mortem examinations on both at Cork University Hospital (CUH) on December 23.

Dr Bolster confirmed to the inquest that both mother and daughter died from acute cardio-respiratory failure due to drowning.

Dr Kennedy explained to Mr Clancy that he was adjourning the inquest on the application of the gardai.

However, he said that in light of the identification and cause of death evidence, death certificates would now become available for both women in due course to their family.

Dr Kennedy and Inspector O'Connor extended their deepest sympathies to Mr Clancy and his family on what they described as "a terrible tragedy."

Both women drowned after being unable to escape their Ford Focus car after it landed nose-first into a flooded ditch following the collision with another vehicle.

Tragically, one of the first people to arrive on the scene in a bid to help was Mr Clancy who was shocked by the realisation the accident involved his own wife and daughter.

His eldest daughter, Fiona, had been scheduled to travel to town with her mother and sister for some last minute Christmas shopping only to opt to remain at home at the last moment.

Heavy rainfall and flooding of the River Blackwater had left the dyke beside the Kilworth-Fermoy road full of water to a depth of almost 120cm (4ft).

Local fields were also heavily flooded.

Louise Ann, who had autism, had successfully defied her condition to study first at Loreto secondary school in Fermoy and then at University College Cork (UCC).

She had only arrived home days before the tragedy from her Erasmus Scholarship placement at the University of Sussex in the UK to spend Christmas with her family.

Louise Ann was a prolific writer and published numerous blogs on living and working with autism.

Special tributes were paid to Louise Ann earlier this month to mark World Autism Awareness Day.

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