An inquest in Castlebar was told today that a devoted wife and mother was killed while trying to pull her pet dog from the path of an oncoming train.
70-year old Bridget McHale of Knockshanvalley, Straide, Foxford, was hunched over her beloved 'Prince" when she was struck by the Manulla to Ballina passenger train on April I last.
Her dog had lain down on the tracks at the Knockshanvalley level crossing and was refusing to budge, despite the urging of its owner.
Train driver, Jonathan Hopkins gave a detailed statement to gardai which was read into evidence today at the inquest into Mrs. McHale's death
Mr. Hopkins said blew his hooter when he saw the dog on the crossing.
The driver said he was blowing the hooter continuously to warn the woman and had the brakes in the emergency position.
He saw the woman reaching in over the rail to try and get the dog off, but then she moved onto the middle of the tracks completely and hunched over the dog.
At this point, the train was more or less on the crossing, and shortly afterwards the train struck the woman and came to a stop a short distance up the line.
Mrs. McHale died immediately at the scene from extensive injuries. 'Prince' also died instantly in the impact.
There were 18 passengers on the train when the accident occurred. None witnessed the impact and none were injured.
After an inquest jury had returned a verdict of accidental death, the Coroner Patrick O'Connor sympathised with the McHale family on their 'heartbreaking" loss.
He said the reaction of Mrs.McHale in trying to save her dog was the normal reaction of a kind person when a beloved pet was in danger.
The coroner also expressed his sympathy to the train driver, Jonathan Hopkins, and other Irish Rail personnel on duty that day.