Sunday 25 August 2019

Soldier settles case over Lebanon crash that killed four men

Injured: Sgt Edmund O’Neil
Injured: Sgt Edmund O’Neil

Tim Healy

A soldier who suffered a brain injury in the Lebanon when a vehicle crashed - killing four of his colleagues - has settled his High Court action for damages.

Sergeant Edmund O'Neill was with his fellow soldiers on the way to Beirut on leave from peacekeeping duties, when the accident happened 15 years ago, the court heard.

He was in a Unifil-registered, open-top land cruiser which skidded on an oil spillage on the road.

His four colleagues lost their lives in the accident.

After skidding and going out of control, the land cruiser hit a metal barrier and overturned and the five were thrown from the vehicle.

On what was to be the second day of the case, Sgt O'Neill's counsel told the court the case had been settled and struck out.

Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, in congratulating the parties on the settlement, said he had been impressed by Sgt O'Neill in the witness box, given everything he had gone through since the tragic incident occurred. He wished him well for the future.

Sgt O'Neill (36), from Tower View Park, Kildare town, who was a Private at the time of the accident on February 14, 2000, has sued the Minister for Defence and the State.

Liability has been admitted and the case is before the court for assessment of damages only.

It was claimed Army personnel were transported in a canvas-covered, open-top land cruiser when it was unsuitable and dangerous.

It was further claimed there was an alleged failure to provide a bus or other appropriate vehicle for the transportation.

The court was told he suffered a skull fracture and was taken to Sacre Coeur Hospital in Beirut. He had an acquired brain injury and was in the Beirut hospital for 30 days before being airlifted to Dublin.

He resumed light duties with the Army in September, 2000. As a result of his brain injury, he loses track of conversations and is forgetful, it was claimed.

He has since been promoted to the rank of sergeant. Sgt O'Neill said he had no recollection of the accident.

Irish Independent

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