Wednesday 17 January 2018

Tragic Dean found to be disorientated

The late Dean McCormack
The late Dean McCormack

A 20-year-old man who died after being struck by a train near Collooney was disorientated after leaving a concert nearby and lay down on the railway track, an inquest into his death heard.

Dean McCormack from Ardcairn died instantly after being struck by the Dublin to Sligo train at Knockbeg on September 7th 2013.

Malcolm Little, pathologist told the inquest at Sligo Courthouse that he found an extremely high level of alcohol in the deceased's system.

He described it as 'pre-comatose', another few milligrams would enduce unconsciousness, he said.

He added that at this level a person would become disorientated and want to sleep, or lie down.

Mr Little said: "What happened to the poor unfortunate deceased was that he became detached from his friends.

"It was dark, raining and he didn't know where he was and lay down on the railway track."

Jury chairman Gerard Mitchell warned people about the dangers of taking high levels of alcohol.

"The jury feels, especially as the press are here, that the message needs to go out to make people aware of the dangers of high levels of alcohol.

"It has been such a problem lately."

Dean was struck by the Dublin train close to 10pm.

Earlier that day, Dean had joined friends Anthony Delaney and David French at the Rockin' the Green festival in Collooney.

In his deposition read at the inquest, Mr Delaney said that they had a few drinks ahead of going to the concert.

They went to the festival at 6.30pm and were separated for a while, chatting to friends.

He said that Dean seemed fine, dancing and singing.

At one stage, Dean became agitated and told him that there was someone there that was going to hurt David and that they needed to leave.

When they met David outside, Dean said to forget about it and the three left the Fairgreen.

"He was back enjoying himself," Mr Delaney added.

As they were talking to two men on the street near Whiteside's, Dean left the group and went behind a building.

"I don't know why.

"There were no bad words between us."

They began calling his name but there was no answer and there was no response from his phone.

"I found Dean was in great form all day and he was just happy.

"That minute or two of panic was the only thing, but he was fine when I last saw him," Mr Delaney said.

In his deposition, David French also said that Dean was in good form all day.

"He was always in good form."

He too tried calling Dean's phone a few times, but there was no answer.

The inquest also heard from Padraig O'Gara, driver of the 7.05pm train from Dublin to Sligo.

It was a dark, misty night and there had been rain earlier.

On approaching an area known as Knockbeg, close to 9.50pm, all of a sudden he saw a person sitting on the rail of the tracks.

He blew the horn and applied the emergency brakes.

"The collision occurred with the person and the train.

"As the train was coming to a halt, I made an emergency call on the train radio," Mr O'Gara said.

Coroner Eamon McGowan asked him what speed he was doing, to which he replied 70mph.

Robert Walsh, solicitor representing the McCormack family, asked what visibility was like and Mr O'Gara said he could see close to 100 yards as visibility was low as it was dark.

Mr Walsh also asked whether Irish Rail would put any additional procedures in place because there was a festival on and people were consuming drink.

Mr O'Gara said that the railway was fenced and that he was around 2.5 miles from the station when the collision happened.

Garda Noel Darcy, of Collooney Garda Station, said a call was received at 10pm.

Access could not be gained from the point where the train was.

Gardai travelled half a mile toward Ballinacarrow to gain entry by a gate.

They found a smashed mobile and pieces of torn clothing as they approached the train.

Garda Darcy said he observed a body lying face down.

His colleague retrieved a driver's licence belonging to Dean McCormack.

All passengers were removed from the train and the scene was preserved overnight.

Mr Walsh asked Garda Darcy if he was satisfied that nothing sinister happened earlier and he replied yes.

Mr Bryan Armstrong, solicitor for CIE, asked if the point at where the collision happened was a long walk from Collooney and Garda Darcy said it was a 'considerable walk.'

Sligo Champion

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