Tuesday 20 March 2018

Widow tells how she tried to revive dying husband on roadside after hit and run

Alan McSherry: was celebrating a friend's birthday before being killed in a hit-and-run on his way home
Alan McSherry: was celebrating a friend's birthday before being killed in a hit-and-run on his way home

Greg Harkin

A WIDOW whose husband died in a hit-and-run crash has told of how she woke up from her sleep minutes before he was killed.

Joanne McSherry was giving evidence at the inquest into the death of husband Alan on a narrow country road close to their home outside Bundoran, Co Donegal, on August 25, 2013.

Mr McSherry, a handyman, had been walking home to the townland of Boyannagh from a night out with his surfing friends in Bundoran, when he was fatally injured.

Neighbour Lisa Roohan, (25), pleaded guilty earlier this year to careless driving causing death and was given an 18-month suspended prison sentence.

Mrs McSherry told Coroner Dr Denis McCauley at Donegal Town Courthouse that she had been with her husband earlier that evening but had gone home by taxi around 11am as she had to work the next day.

She had later texted her 48-year-old husband to say she was putting her phone on silent and going to sleep.

She said she woke up later for no apparent reason at and looked at her phone to check the time.

“I awoke suddenly at 4.45am and went to check the time and noticed a number of missed calls from Alan,” she told the seven-person jury.

She repeatedly called her husband but didn’t get an answer.

Just after 5am she got into her car and drove towards Bundoran and came across her husband lying in the road.

A car coming the other way - driven by Roohan - had passed her moments earlier.

“His eyes were open. He wasn’t conscious. He was breathing shallowly,” said Mrs McSherry.

She tried to revive her husband but he was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Mrs McSherry sat just a few feet away at Ms Roohan described hitting what she thought was a badger when driving home from a takeaway restaurant she worked at.

She had driven on, not realising she had struck a neighbour.

“I thought it was an animal or a badger or something like that,” said Ms Roohan who later left the court upset.

Her solicitor John Murray said Ms Roohan had wanted to read out a statement extending her sympathy to the McSherry family but she had been unable to do so.

“It was a truly awful tragic accident; there isn’t a day Ms Roohan doesn’t think of Alan. She says he’s there when she wakes up every morning. It’s her first thought,” he said.

“She has her own burden but knows this is nothing compared to the pain suffered by Mrs McSherry at the loss of a warm and magnetic man who lit up every room he went into it.”

Garda forensic collision investigator Sgt John McFadden told the inquest he had concluded that Mr McSherry had been lying on the road when he was struck by Ms Roohan’s car.

He said the car hadn’t stopped – and if Ms Roohan had seen Alan McSherry even within two seconds there wouldn’t have been enough time to take evasive action.

The jury found that Mr McSherry had died from head and chest injuries consistent with being in a road traffic accident.

Dr McCauley said it was a “remarkable” feature of the case that Mrs McSherry had woken from her sleep just minutes before the accident.

Extending his sympathy to Mrs McSherry he added: “It is tragic that Alan died when he was just out for a night with his surfing buddies. We are all sorry he had to die in such a tragic way.”

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