Collision at notorious Strandhill junction recalled
A serious collision between two cars at a set of traffic lights on the Strandhill road was recalled at Sligo District Court where one of the drivers was charged with dangerous driving.
Lesley Walsh, 35 Oakfield Park, was accused of driving through a red light causing the collision.
She denied the charge and claimed the light was green when she drove from the Sea Road with intention of going straight towards Oakfield. Her car was in a collision with another travelling from Strandhill towards Sligo driven by Sinead McLoughlin.
The accident occurred on August 7th 2013 and the court heard there has been several accidents at the junction. The sequence of the traffic lights was changed following representations to the County Council by local residents.
Sinead McLoughlin said she was driving from Strandhill to Sligo at 8.50 am where she worked at the Garda Station as a clerical officer.
As she approached the traffic lights at the Sea Road junction they were green in her favour and she proceeded through.
She was then struck by another car to the front left hand side when she was half way across the junction.
"It had come so fast I thought I had been hit by a truck," she said.
Her Golf car went into a spin and ended up against a wall on the opposite side of the road facing Strandhill. Witness said she had to be cut from the car and suffered a lot of injuries. When her car was spinning she closed her eyes and she thought she was going to be flung from it.
In reply to defending solicitor Padraic Quinn, witness denied she had been driving excessively or that she had been trying "to beat the light".
Sheena Henry told the court she had been travelling towards Sligo behind the previous witness's car.
Witness said the lights were green and the Golf was hit by a car that "literally came from nowhere". This car had come from the Sea Road at speed and spun the Golf on the road before it ended up hitting a wall.
Lesley Walsh said she had driven from Hawthorn Avenue and was driving in the direction of Oakfield to drop off her two-year-old child. She wasn't in a hurry and had slowed as she approached the junction as the lights were red. She was preparing to stop and was about 15 metres back when they turned green.
"I had the green light when I went through that junction," she said.
The defendant said she worked at IT Sligo but was on flexi time and intended going to work.
She hadn't been at work earlier she told Inspector Donal Sweeney. She also thought she had been struck by a lorry. After the impact she believed she was paralysed.
Judge Kevin Kilrane said it had been a violent impact at a crossroads where visibility was reduced by a high wall.
This continued up to the junction and was bad engineering by the local authority, he said.
"You cannot see into the junction because of the stone wall which must be seven feet high.
"It's more than sufficient to block visibility to the left and that's why no driver could see the other," he said.
He pointed out there was a conflict of evidence and there was no point of impact as debris was sent in all directions such was the violent impact.
The Judge said in all probability the defendant had a red light and the other driver a green one.
However, because it was a criminal case he had a doubt and dismissed the charge against the defendant. "If it was a Civil test I would side with the other driver," said the Judge.