Accident victim was on wrong side of road

Flowers at the scene of the accident where Declan Lowney died tragically at Kilcummin Cross, Killarney.
Flowers at the scene of the accident where Declan Lowney died tragically at Kilcummin Cross, Killarney.

AN inquest into the death of Declan Lowney (68), who died when his electric bicycle was hit by a bus on the main Killarney Tralee Road on Easter Sunday, has heard that he was travelling on the wrong side of the road and may have been 'drinking all day' in town.

The inquest also heard that Mr Lowney's bicycle was not fitted with any lights and that he was not wearing a helmet or reflective clothing.

In his evidence, bus driver Michael O'Connor, who was driving the 24-seater Mercedes bus that hit Mr Lowney's bicycle, said that he was travelling towards Tralee at around 9.30pm when he encountered an unlit bicycle approaching him in the middle of his lane. At that point he was just "two to three car lengths way" and "travelling at speed downhill".

Mr O'Connor said there was nothing he could do to avoid the bicycle.

A second witness, Kathleen Clifford, also reported to seeing a bicycle heading towards Killarney against the flow of traffic.

She said the cyclist was not wearing reflective gear and that there was no visible light on the bike.

Ms Clifford said there was no way the driver of the bus could have avoided the bicycle because of the position he was in on the road.

Garda James O'Brien, who carried out a forensic investigation of the scene, told the inquest that the bus was travelling in its correct lane and collided head on with the electric bicycle, which was in the wrong lane. He said the damage was consistent with a front impact to the left of the bus with an upright pedal cyclist.

Detailing the layout of the scene, Garda O'Brien said the body of Mr Lowney was found approximately 11.5metres from the rear of the bus.

He noted that the dead man was wearing dark brown clothing and that his bicycle, lying nearby, was not fitted with any lights.

In a deposition read out to the court Mr Lowney's partner of ten years, Joan Murphy, said that he had only returned to Ireland from the US on Good Friday and had spent the previous night in Knockeendubh before heading into Killarney at 1pm on the Sunday.

Ms Murphy said it appeared he had been drinking in Killarney all day and had returned home with a "six pack of cans", drinking a further two before he left the house again at approximately 9.15pm.

A toxicology report on the body found that Mr Lowney had a high level of alcohol in his system and some prescribed drugs were also present.

South Kerry Coroner Terence Casey recorded a verdict of accidental death as a result of a road traffic accident.