Tuesday 23 January 2018

Family escapes injury as car ploughs into their home for second time in three years

The crashed van at the Butler home near Gortahork, Co Donegal.
The crashed van at the Butler home near Gortahork, Co Donegal.
The scene in 2011 when a car crashed into the Butler family home near Gortahork, Co Donegal.

Greg Harkin

A FAMILY escaped injury when a car ploughed into their home, for the second time in three years.

The Butler family from Cashel na gCorr in the Donegal gaeltacht have been campaigning to have a crash barrier erected on the road outside their home but so far Donegal County Council has refused to come up with the €5,000 cost.

Mum of three Joanne Lindsay Butler said she and her children were taking groceries out of their car when they heard “an almighty bang”.

It’s the second time a car has been sandwiched between their 200-year-old cottage and the road. A car ploughed into their home in 2012.

"We were just unloading the shopping from the car when we heard a loud bang and then we felt everything shake,” said Joanne who had put boulders at the side of the road after the last crash.

"We then realised a van had struck the front of the house, it had struck both of the boulders and that reduced its impact but it caused the van to somersault and hit our roof.

"Our three children who are aged five, six and eight were absolutely terrified and I took them inside and sent my husband to check on the driver.

"The van was absolutely mangled as you can imagine, the driver stumbled out of the van and asked to use the bathroom.

"However, as soon as he got to the bathroom, he collapsed, we had called Now Doc as soon as the car hit the house so thankfully they arrived soon after.”

The driver was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where it was discovered he had broken bones in his back an he had also sustained injuries to his head.

The family had to spend the weekend at a nearby hotel to allow Gardai to examine the scene.

"It was only in the light of day that we were able to see the damage for ourselves, it was scary to think what could have happened if the boulders weren't there,” said Joanne.

"The Gardaí actually said that if it was a modern day home the van would've breached the house properly.

"Our house is over two hundred years old and the old stone it's made from saved us from even more damage.

"Our kids sleep right at that part of the house and it's terrifying to think what could've happened if the kids were sleeping in the room.

"They can't sleep in the room at the minute because of the damage done, and they won't go into the room unattended to get toys or clothes from the room.

"The kids are naturally very shook up the incident as we all are, the sleeping arrangements aren't ideal at the minute but we're just thankful nobody was fatally injured.

Local councillor John Sheamuis O'Fearraigh said he would raise a motion at the next sitting of Donegal County Council to try to earmark €5,000 for a barrier.

Added Joanne: There’s no way we can afford €5,000 to erect a crash barrier, but I'm hoping the council can view this as a unique situation now that there's been two serious accidents in just three years.

"It's a miracle that nobody has been killed, and we just want a barrier erected so it can protect our family.

"Will it take someone to lose their live before they do something, I really hope they can do something about the situation.

"We can't afford the money required for a crash barrier so we're hoping the issue can be resolved, until then I'm on the look out for two new boulders.”

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