Friday 19 April 2019

Lorry veered into hard shoulder

Sorcha Crowley

The trial continues today (Tuesday, 27th) at Sligo Circuit Criminal Court of a 43-year-old lorry driver charged with dangerous driving causing death and serious injury to three Council workers at Castlebaldwin three years ago.

Vlastimil Zachar, a Czech citizen with an address at Connell Drive, Newbridge, Kildare, pleaded not guilty to the charge, which claimed the life of 62-year-old Padraig Noone and seriously injured Damien Davey and Anthony Fehily on 13th August 2015 at Ballyhealy townland, Hollybrook, Castlebaldwin.

Ms Orla Crowe, SC, with Mr Pat Reynolds BL and instructed by Ms Elisa McHugh, State Solicitor, opened the case for the Prosecution last Friday before Judge Francis Comerford and a jury of eight men and four women.

Ms Eileen O'Leary SC is defending Zachar, instructed by Mr Morgan Coleman solicitor and by Mr Pat O'Sullivan BL.

Ms Crowe told the jury that the fatal crash happened around 11.20am that morning, which was a fine dry day.

She said it will be alleged that Zachar drove his arctic truck in a manner, including speed, that was dangerous to the public and which caused the death of Mr Noone and injured Anthony Fehily and Damien Davey.

She said the late Mr Noone ws a General Operative for Sligo County Council, a 62-year-old married man with two grown up children who worked part time for the Council and was also a small farmer.

Senior counsel outlined that there was work being done by Sligo County Council on the grass verge that day - verge trimming, litter picking and drainage clearing.

She said that 6.2km before the operation, there was a message sign warning of verge triming.

There was another sign 270m further on and a third sign 160m before the scene and arrows pointing to the hard shoulder as one came upon the operation. Ms Crowe said the first vehicle at the operation was a Mitsubishi crew cab with a sign and warning lights driven by Gerry Glynn.

The next vehicle was a caterpillar JCB, driven by Anthony Fehily, clearing drains.

"Ahead of him, three abreast, were Thomas Colleary, Damien Davey and Padraig Noone, closest to the embankment. They were picking up litter," she told the jury. She told them they would hear evidence that Zachar veered off the road, into the hard shoulder, colliding with the crew cab, forcing it up on to the embankment, causing it to spin around.

"The truck then continued and hit the JCB, shoving it up into the embankment. Padraig Noone was directly in the path of the JCB and was partially trapped underneath," she said. Forensic collision investigator Garda Gerard McAuley testified that he attended the scene the same day to assist Sgt PJ Gallagher, the lead forensic collision investigator.

He said there were skid marks from the right front wheel of the arctic truck up to where they disappeared under the cab that were 28m long. Another skid mark from the front left wheel of the Scania truck was 23.2m long.

Retired Sgt Ciaran O'Brien of Sligo Crime Scenes Unit showed photos he took of the crash scene to the jury. Many were taken using a fire bridage hoist.

The trial continues today before Judge Comerford at Sligo Courthouse. It is expected to last two weeks at the least.

Sligo Champion