A Coroner today described a stretch of the N17 national primary route where three generations of a family – a grandmother, her daughter and grandson – lost their lives last September as 'a Russian roulette route'.
At inquests into the deaths of Mary Ann Wilson (67), Marcella Wilson (39) and Sean Wilson (7), all from the Belmullet area of Co. Mayo, highlighted what he said were dangers caused by junctions on the N17, particularly between Knock and Ballindine.
He said that at entrances onto the N17, such as the one at Lisduff, Claremorris where the Wilsons were killed instantly when their saloon car collided with an articulated lorry need to be looked at by Mayo County Council, the Road Safety Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
“All drivers aren't stopping at the junctions”, Mr. O' Connor maintained. “They are driving onto the hard shoulder without stopping. They are treating the junctions as slip roads. It is extremely dangerous”.
After an inquest jury, with Mr. Eamon Berry acting as foreman, returned a verdict of accidental death on all three Wilson family members, Mr. O'Connor described the impact as “an unspeakable horror”.
Schoolboy Sean Wilson was propelled from his mother's Citroen C3 car by the force of the impact. The engine was ripped from the vehicle.
The Wilsons, who were traveling to Galway at the time, died when their car collided with a lorry, owned by Killacroy Logistics and driven by Mark Tierney, Oldcastle, Co. Meath.
A witness to the impact, Kenneth Groarke from Oranmore. Galway, was travelling north from Galway to Claremorris.
Mr. Groarke testified that at what is known as the 'Old Ballindine Road' junction, as he moved into the slip road to take the turn to Claremorris, he saw the C3 go slowly up to the stop line at the junction but not fully stopping.“”.
The inquest heard that the lorry driver, Mr. Tierney, was fully compliant with tachograph driver requirements at the time the collision occurred and the condition of either vehicle involved did not contribute to the collision occurring.
Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin, PSV Inspector for Mayo, said it was apparent from an examination of the scene that the car involved travelled onto the N17 and impacted onto the passenger side of the semi-trailer.
The two front seat passengers were wearing seatbelts but Sean Wilson, who was flung from the vehicle, was not restrained due to the incorrect fitting of a rear seat safety belt.
Each of the victims received what were described by Dr. Fadel Bannani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, as 'traumatic head injuries' in the violent impact.