Monday 18 December 2017

Music student suffers severe brain injury in car crash on way to Christmas carol service, court hears

Noleen McGarrigle, mother of Hazel McGarrigle Pic: Collins Courts
Noleen McGarrigle, mother of Hazel McGarrigle Pic: Collins Courts

A music student suffered a devastating brain injury after her car was rear ended on the way to a school Christmas carol service, the High Court heard yesterday.

Hazel McGarrigle, who was a masters student of the Cork School of Music, five years after the accident remains minimally conscious, cannot speak or walk, and needs 24 hour care.

Her visual perception is also restricted and she can only follow pictures, but her hearing is intact.

Ms McGarrigle, now aged 30, of Drumstevlin House, Donegal town, has sued through her father Noel McGarrigle, the driver of the other car, Breda Broderick, of Sycamores, Classes Lake, Ovens, Co Cork.

The accident occurred at Carr's Hill, Carrigaline, Co Cork, on December 15, 2009.

It is claimed she was second in a line of cars waiting to turn onto a main road when she was hit in the rear, propelling her car in to the vehicle at the front of the line.

The case is before the court for assessment of damages and liability is not an issue.

Opening the case, her counsel Eugene Gleeson said Ms McGarrigle suffered devastating inter cranial injuries  and was taken to Cork University Hospital intensive care.

A CT scan showed a right sided subdural haematoma with bleeding in the brain.  She was in 2010 airlifted to Letterkenny General Hospital and her family began looking after at home after that.

Her mother, Noeleen McGarrigle, told the court her daughter was absorbed in music and and loved it from an early age. She planned to  to go on to do a PhD in music. At the time of the accident she was researching a contemporary French composer as part of her work.

Her mother had talked to Hazel one hour before the accident. She said her daughter worked with a primary school and was on the way there to conduct the carol service.

"It was a very different phone call over an hour later . They did not give us many details. We gathered it was very bad and we drove to Cork, " she said.

The McGarrigle family stayed by Hazel's bedside and twice Mrs McGarrigle said they were told their daughter might not make it.

Hazel now turns her head when she hears a member of her family and recognises voices and smiles.

"We keep talking to her . She was totally absorbed in music . It was all she wanted to do," she added.

She said before the accident her daughter was a very outgoing girl and very ambitious.

The case continues before Ms Justice Mary Irvine.

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