Monday 22 January 2018

Man who drove over partner's father tells his heartbreak for road safety campaign

David Kearns

A young man who drove over his partner’s father in a freak accident has become the face of a campaign to get people to wear hi-vis jackets if they are walking home at night.

Michael Jackson said his life was shattered when he realised he had driven over his girlfriend’s father Frankie Bonner late one night in Ballycastle in County Mayo last year.

Mr Jackson was driving a van towards Killala at 3am last June when he noticed something lying on the dark road ahead.

He tried to avoid it but felt a slight bump and continued on to Killala. When he pulled up, he noticed that the front bumper was damaged.

He immediately returned to where the incident had occurred, and discovered a badly-injured man’s body on the road.

Having called the emergency services, it was not until several hours later that he learned it was his partner’s father.

“I tried to ring the emergency services and I wasn’t able to. My friend had to take the phone off me to ring them because I couldn’t actually think of the number. I was in total shock,” he told TV3’s Ireland AM.

Girlfriend Maggie Bonner said she had suspicions that the body could be that of her father.

Speaking about the accident, she said: “It was very out of character that night that he would be out that late. Usually if it was local in Ballycastle, his home town, he might be out later because he could walk home but not that late in Killala.

“You just couldn’t [write it].

"We even said it that night on the side of the road when we knew it had happened and the lads had ran over a body, we said ‘this is just a nightmare, it can’t get worse than this’ and I tell you I regret those words so much because it really did.”

The couple were on Ireland AM to speak about the terrible accident and to campaign to keep late-night walkers safe on Irish roads by wearing high visibility jackets. 

Also joining the pair this morning was Road Safety Officer Noel Higgins, who said:

“It’s so important to be seen out there if you are walking home. Even something as small as a Hi Viz arm band… makes a huge difference. It could be the difference between life and death.”

Last year, a consultant pathologist ruled at Mr Bonner’s (65) inquest that he had suffered multiple fatal injuries, and that his alcohol level was high enough for him to go unconscious.

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