Van in fatal crash was on the wrong side of the road

Kevin Hughes

A CORONER'S court in Killarney has heard how one of two vehicles involved in a fatal collision had been driven erratically and had taken a bend on the wrong side of the road prior to the incident.

Mary O'Donoghue (59), 12 Riverside, Cahersiveen, died of multiple injuries arising out of the collision at the Gap Cross, Fossa, on February 28, 2011. An inquest held in Killarney on Wednesday returned a verdict of accidental death. Mrs O'Donoghue was the rear passenger in a Toyota Corolla driven by her husband Michael and she had offered her front passenger seat to her sister-in-law Maureen O'Connor during a return journey from Cork.

Attending the inquest, witness Tom Grant in his statement revealed how he had observed a dusty red van being driven in a "very erratic manner". It was travelling from the Killorglin direction and had been speeding up and slowing down before it took a bend on the wrong side of the road as it approached the Gap Cross.

Witness Kathleen Coffey stated that she had been travelling from the Killarney direction and was indicating to turn left at the Gap Cross when she was forced to swerve out of the way of the red van before hearing a loud bang.

The deceased's husband, Michael O'Donoghue, had been travelling back from hospital in Cork and in his statement said he remembered passing Liebherr and The Golden Nugget. "The next thing there was a bang and I thought I was dreaming of an accident and next it was real," Mr O'Donoghue stated, revealing that five hours later he was told that his wife was dead.

His sister Maureen's statement revealed how she thought the vehicle would go on fire and she had climbed into the back of the vehicle to exit through a rear door. She added that her brother John and his wife Mary did not move or respond to her as she exited.

Driver of the red van, John Murphy (35), Ivy Rock, Glencar, previously pleaded guilty to a charge arising from the death of Mary O'Donoghue in July and was jailed for three years at Tralee Circuit Court.

Mr Murphy had admitted to a charge of drink driving and was over twice the legal limit. Coroner Terence Casey said the inquest had been delayed due to criminal proceedings and labelled the incident "a tragic accident that should never have occurred" and he thanked gardaí and fire crews at the scene.


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