Monday 19 February 2018

Woman killed in hit-and-run flung nine feet in air as partner looked on helplessly, inquest heard

The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.
The Dublin Coroners Court, Store St. Pic Tom Burke.

Gareth Naughton

A woman struck in a hit and run accident was flung nine feet into the air as her shocked partner looked on helplessly, an inquest heard.

Caroline Watkins (40) from Lally Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10 was fatally struck by a car while crossing the road at the Goldenbridge Luas Stop on Davitt Road in Drimnagh on May 30 last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard the car was travelling over the speed limit, no emergency brakes were applied and it continued on without slowing down following the impact.

Gardaí found the vehicle involved but were unable to establish who was driving when the incident happened.

Ms Watkins and her partner Ray Harcourt were on their way home from a pub in Inchicore at around 10.30pm and decided to walk to the Davitt Road to get a taxi. When they reached the Goldenbridge Luas stop, they got to the edge of a pedestrian crossing and waited. Mr Harcourt said that he was checking if it was safe to cross when Ms Watkins stepped out onto the road.

“The next thing I knew I just heard a dead sound. It wasn’t even like a bang. Before I could even turn or say anything, I saw Caroline flying through the air at a height of eight or nine foot at a guess. She was spinning horizontally… She never made a sound,” he said.

Ms Watkins landed about 30 feet away. The court heard she was struck by the bumper of the car, then the bonnet and windscreen before being propelled forward.

When paramedics attended the scene, she was pulseless. She was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at St James’s Hospital.

The post-mortem was carried out by state pathologist Professor Marie Cassidy who found Ms Watkins died from multiple injuries caused by the collision. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said the injuries were “not survivable”.

The court heard from Nikita McGrane, who was in a different car approaching the pedestrian crossing at the time, that cars had the green light when the incident happened.

Forensic collision investigator Garda Edward Davin said CCTV footage indicates the car that struck Ms Watkins was travelling at 58 kilometres per hour on approach to the pedestrian crossing. The speed limit in the area is 50 kilometres per hour. Another vehicle may have masked the oncoming car from Ms Watkins as she crossed, he told the court. He said there is nothing on the CCTV footage to show that the driver “slowed down appreciably”. There was no braking effort, he added, and the footage does not show the driver stopping.  

Gardaí recovered the vehicle and, using DNA, confirmed it was the car that struck Ms Watkins. Dr Farrell said it is his understanding that the registered owner of the car had sold it on and, when interviewed, the buyer said he was not driving the car.

Detective Inspector Liam Kelly said a person believed to be the driver was arrested and a file was sent to the DPP who returned directions of no prosecution in the matter. The investigation remains open.

The jury returned a narrative verdict that Ms Watkins died in a “hit-and-run road traffic collision”.

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