A verdict of misadventure was returned by a jury at an inquest today into the death of a 61-year-old building contractor who was killed instantly when his car collided with an articulated lorry on the Swinford bypass in February of last year.
The man who died was Francis (Frank) Walsh, Treenlaur, Kiltimagh. His son, Mark, who was in the passenger seat, was badly injured but has since recovered.
The impact occurred at Carrowbaun, Swinford, close to Applegreen, as Mr. Walsh was exiting from the Kiltimagh/Swinford road onto the N5.
The truck involved in the impact was owned by Donovan Transport.
Driven by Eugene Casey, Cloonloo, Boyle, it was travelling westwards on the N5 to pick up a loaded container at Baxter Healthcare, Castlebar.
Mr. Casey, in a statement read to today’s inquest, explained that he sounded his horn to warn the driver to stop as he came onto the N5 but the car driver kept coming.
He said there was nothing he could do to avoid and impact and he was in pure shock afterwards.
Other drivers on the N5 corroborated the lorry driver’s evidence that the car appeared not to stop at the junction but kept going.
Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin, PSV Inspector for Mayo, carried out an examination of the crash vehicles.
Sergeant McLoughlin said it was not possible to calculate the speed of the car at the time of the collision.
Also, it was not possible to determine whether the car braked prior to the collision.
Both vehicles were in a roadworthy condition and the road was good.
Garda Michael Mullaney of the Garda Traffic Corps, Castlebar, examined the digital tachograph unit of the lorry.
He said that at the time of the fatal collision Eugene Casey was fully compliant with the driver’s hours regulations as well as the EU Working Time directive.
Dr. Fadel Bennani, who carried out a post mortem examination, gave the cause of death as multiple fatal injuries including skull fracture with subarachnoid haemorrhage and multiple rib fracture sustained in a road traffic accident.
The level of blood alcohol was determined at 377mg%
Coroner O’Connor noted the blood alcohol level of the deceased was five times the legal limit.
After a short period of deliberation, the inquest jury returned a verdict of misadventure.
Sympathising with the Walsh family, the coroner said he had known the deceased well.
“I knew him personally. He was a lovable man and ran a very good business.
“He will be sadly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him”.
Tom Walsh, solicitor (for the Walsh family) thanked the emergency services, gardai and particularly members of the public who attended at the scene in a bid to help both accident victims.
Sergeant David Tiernan, on behalf of An Garda Siochana, and the foreman of the inquest jury joined in the expressions of sympathy.
Finally, Coroner O’Connor mentioned what he described as an increasing trend - the practice of motorists coasting from minor roads onto national primary routes such as the N17 and the N5 without stopping.
The practice had been the cause of serious accidents particularly on the N17 between Charlestown and Ballindine, the coroner stated.