Woman killed trying to drag her dog from path of oncoming train
A woman was killed while trying to pull her pet dog from the path of an oncoming train, an inquest was told.
Bridget McHale (70), of Knockshanvalley, Straide, Foxford, Co Mayo, was hunched over her beloved dog Prince when she was struck by the Manulla to Ballina passenger train on April 1 last.
The dog lay on the tracks at the Knockshanvalley level crossing, and was refusing to move.
Train driver Jonathan Hopkins gave a statement to gardaí which was read at the inquest in Castlebar.
"When I blew the hooter the dog moved away from the train on to the tracks and lay down. At this point the woman walked down the side of the track towards the dog."
He was blowing the hooter and had the brakes in the emergency position. "The woman was reaching in over the rail to try and get the dog off, but then she moved on to the middle of the tracks completely and hunched over the dog.
"At this point the train was more or less on the crossing. Shortly afterwards the train struck the woman and came to a stop a short distance up the line."
Ms McHale died at the scene. Prince also died instantly in the impact.
There were 18 passengers on the train, but none of them were injured.
James McHale, the grieving husband of the deceased, did not attend yesterday's hearing.
But, in a statement to gardaí which was read to the inquest, he said that the night before they had enjoyed "a great night" dancing in Swinford.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.