inquest

  • An inquest was told yesterday that cockpit video evidence showed that a 59-year-old pilot was ‘incapacitated’ when his microlight aircraft departed from straight and level flight and plunged to the ground near Ballina, Co. Mayo, last May.

     The hearing into the death of Michael McCarrick, an ESB employee from Belleek, Ballina, was told that the impact was not survivable due to severe damage to the aircraft structures and extreme traumatic injuries to the pilot.

     Mr. McCarrick, who had taken off from Lough Conn Airfield, Cloghans, Ballina, had installed a forward facing camera in the cockpit of the microlight and this, along with other evidence, indicated he had slumped forward and had no control of the aircraft at the time of the impact.

     A subsequent post mortem examination indicated that it was very likely the pilot was unconscious at the time of impact.

    Medical evidence was given at yesterday’s inquest by Dr. Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, that a post mortem on the pilot showed evidence of an old myocardial infarction, a past heart attack.

    Dr. Bennani said Mr. McCarrick had suffered what he described as “a transient loss of consciousness”. One of the causes of this is heart disease.

     In response to a question from a member of the McCarrick family, Dr. Bennani said that in his opinion heart disease caused the loss of consciousness.

    Howard Hughes of the Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU) told the hearing, which was conducted in Ballina courthouse by the Coroner for North Mayo, Dr. Eleanor Fitzgerald, that the primary source of evidence indicating that the pilot became incapacitated was obtained from a compact video recorder recovered at the accident site.

     Mr. Hughes said the aircraft had been recently inspected prior to the crash and was found to be airworthy. Also Mr. McCarrick, was a most careful and meticulous aviator and was suitably qualified and licensed.

     After an inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death due to multiple injuries, Supt Joseph Doherty, on behalf of the gardai sympathised with Mr. McCarrick’s wife, Brid and family saying he knew Michael personally as a friend and neighbor and he was one of life’s true gentlemen.

    Speaking on behalf of the McCarrick family, a niece of the deceased, thanked everybody who had supported the family and helped them get through the dark days since the tragedy.

    Jim Friel, foreman of the inquest jury, joined the coroner Dr. Fitzgerald in the expressions of sympathy.

     

  • An inquest has heard that a 19-year old Galway woman died when she sustained severe head injuries after falling down a stairs at her student accommodation in Limerick in September 2017.

    Sophie Coll from Barna,, who was studying international  business studies at UL, was joined by friends at her student accommodation at College Drive in Castletroy on the night of 25 September 2017.

    A group of four of them were climbing a stairs and were about six or seven steps up when one of them wobbled, causing a domino effect colliding with Sophie at the end of the group, and she fell hitting her head on the tiled hall floor.

    She suffered a fracture to her skull causing traumatic brain injuries from which she did not recover, and she died the following day at University Hospital Limerick.

    Coronor John McNamara recorded a verdict of accidental death.

    Her father, Rory Coll, said Sophie's organs were donated after her death, and her friends from Coláiste Iognaid in Galway where she attended school have since organised a charity event, 'Sophie's ball' in her memory, from which a number of charities have benefitted.

     

     

     

  • An inquest heard today that a 50-year-old head chef at a Mayo restaurant was killed instantly when his car crashed into an articulated low loader trailer.

    Brian Farren of Roskeen, Newport and formerly of Dalkey, Co. Dublin, had dropped his daughter to school in Westport and was on his return journey when the tragedy occurred on the N59 near Mulranny around 9 a.m. on April 25 last year.

    The father-of two was head chef at Nevin’s Bar and Restaurant, Tiernaur, Mulranny.

    Mr. Farren was killed when his Peugeot car left the road as he drove westwards on the N59 towards Mulranny and hit a low loader parked in a gravel lay-by, adjacent to the roadway.

     

    Garda evidence was given to today’s hearing that there was no evidence of any braking by Mr. Farren and the deceased had not been wearing a seatbelt.

    Medical evidence was given that the cause of death was multiple body injuries including a lacerated liver and lacerated lung.

    The Coroner said there was no evidence of alcohol in Mr Farren's system.

    After an inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death, the Coroner for Mayo Patrick O’Connor noted the victim had not been wearing a seatbelt and said that fact was probably significant in relation to the injuries he sustained.

    Mr. O’Connor also remarked that it is unusual nowadays for drivers not to wear seatbelts but said “unfortunately it does happen”.

     

     

     

  • An inquest was told today that a rare allergic reaction to a drug which is commonly prescribed for stomach disorders caused the death of a 48-year old Mayo woman in August last year.

    The hearing into the death of mother-of-four Amanda Niland of Mountain, Aughamore, Ballyhaunis returned an open verdict, with the Coroner for Mayo Patrick O'Connor calling on the manufacturers to carry out a detailed analysis into the potential side effects of the drug Colofac.

    The deceased woman's husband Damien Niland gave evidence that, on 16th August last, his wife had been at the doctor and was prescribed medication, and she took a tablet that evening after dinner.

    In a statement read to the inquest, he explained that Amanda's body started to itch, her lips went white and started to swell and she could not get her breath.

    He said it was the first time his wife had taken Colofac, and the itching started just minutes after taking the first tablet.

    After CPR, Mrs Niland was rushed by ambulance to Mayo University Hospital where she later died.

    Consultant pathologist Dr Tamas Nemeth, who carried out a post-mortem, said the anaphylactic shock which caused Mrs Niland's death, was most likely caused by Colofac.

    Dr Nemeth agreed with the coroner that the drug manufacturer should be asked to investigate further the side effects of this medication.

    The pathologist added that, in his opinion, death was due to unnatural causes.

    In his post-mortem report, the pathologist said any allergic reaction to Colofac was extremely unusual, and the medication was readily available on prescription.

    The Coroner Mr O'Connor said a detailed analysis should be carried out into the side effects of this drug, as the public needed to be advised of any dangers, and said "something must be learned from this".

  • The inquest today in Dundalk, into the death of Garda Tony Golden while on duty in 2015,  has heard the Ballina native was shot five times.

    The garda was killed by Adrian Crevan Mackin on the 11th of October 2015 at a house in Omeath in Co Louth.

    The Deputy State Pathologist has told the inquest that Garda Golden died from multiple gunshot wounds.

    One of the shots hit the garda in the back, and it was said that it would have killed him very quickly.

  • A verdict of accidental death has been returned by the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O'Connor at an inquest into the death of a 52 year-old salmon angler on the River Moy at Foxford last May.

    John Newcombe, who lived in Foxford, fished the Moy regularly.

    An inquest today was told that the medical cause of his death on May 28th was freshwater drowning.

    The inquest was told that Mr. Newcombe had a history of epileptic seizures and, for this reason, did not like to go fishing alone on the river.

    However, he apparently ended up fishing alone on May 28th.

     The alarm was raised when a local woman, Arleen Campbell, having spotted his body in the river, entered the water and held onto the body to prevent it being carried downstream.

    Garda Patrick Coleman and local resident Michael Tiernan removed the body from the water.

    After returning a verdict of accidental death, the coroner expressed his deepest sympathy with the relatives of the deceased and said Mr. Newcombe had died doing what he loved best – freshwater fishing.

    Sergeant Gerry McNally, on behalf of An Garda Siochana, joined in the expressions of sympathy.

  • An inquest yesterday (Monday) into the death of a 48-year-old woman, who died at Mayo University Hospital, heard concerns about the treatment provided to her, after she presented with severe back pain.

    The proceedings relate to the death of Anne Marie O'Brien from Castlebar, who died on 2 October 2016.

    Anne Marie O’Brien  attended Mayo University Hospital on two separate occasions in the week before she died, complaining of severe back pain. She was not admitted on either occasion and was sent home with painkillers.

    Ms O'Brien, who had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, took ill at home on 2 October and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

    She had suffered a cardiac arrest and efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. She was pronounced dead shortly after 10pm that night.

    Evidence relating to the care provided to her on both visits will be heard when the inquest resumes later this year.

    The Mayo Coroner Pat O’Connor agreed to hear witness statements from medical personnel who were on duty on these dates, after Mr Tansey submitted that this evidence was central to the inquiry into her death.

    Proceedings have been adjourned to next November to gather these statements and to obtain medical records from the hospital about the treatment provided to Ms O'Brien.

  • 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.

  • A preliminary inquest into the death of the crew of rescue helictoper 116 off the north Mayo coast, which was due to be held tomorrow in Belmullet, has been postponed due to weather conditions.

    The Coroner in North Mayo Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald has confirmed that the inquest has been postponed, and a new date will be announced later.

    The inquest was due to get underway in Belmullet courthouse, following the deaths of the four crew members of Coast Guard helicopter 116, which crashed into Blackrock Island off Blacksod Bay on 14th March last.

    The bodies of Captain Dara Fitzpatrick and Captain Mark Duffy were recovered but their colleagues Paul Ormsby and Ciarán Smith have never been found, despite extensive searches.

     

     

     

     

  • A jury today returned a verdict of accidental deaths at inquests into the deaths of two young friends who died when their jeep became submerged and was swept away when they tried to cross a swollen river near Louisburg in the early hours of last Christmas morning.

     Tom McGreal survived the tragedy on the Carrowniskey River, near Louisburgh by pulling himself through the back window of the Ford Ranger vehicle which was owned and driven by one of his closest friends, 26-year old Declan Davitt.

     Mr Davitt and 27-year old Martin Needham also from the Louisburgh area died in the incident.

    Their bodies were not found by search teams until after 4 pm on Christmas Day, more than twelve hours after their vehicle plunged into the water.

     It emerged at today’s inquest in Castlebar, presided over by the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor, that the river which the young men tried to cross is regularly crossed by larger, SUV- type vehicles.

    However, last Christmas the waterway was a raging torrent following weeks of incessant rain.

    It was also revealed at today’s hearing that the front passenger window of the SUV wasn’t operational.

     In his statement, Tom McGreal explained that he crossed fields to the main road before getting to the Gibbons home where family members raised the alarm by ringing 999 at around 2.25 am on 25th December.

    A full-scale emergency operation got underway, involving Gardai, members of the local community, Westport Coastguard, the Order of Malta and Rescue 118 helicopter from Sligo.

    Around 4 am, the radio antenna of the submerged vehicle was spotted in the river about 400 metres from the initial entry area.

    There were no casualties in the vehicle when checked by garda divers.

     As daylight was fading, some 12 hours later, the bodies of Martin and Declan were discovered at a spot close to where the Carrowniskey River flows into the Atlantic and were winched from the water by a search and rescue helicopter.

     Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin, Garda PSV Inspector for Mayo, carried out a detailed examination of the jeep involved. He said the vehicle appeared to be in a roadworthy condition prior to the incident.

     The SUV was swept downstream for approximately 175 metres before coming to rest in two metres of water.

    Dr. Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, said the cause of death in both cases was asphyxia due to drowning.

    The Coroner noted that the blood alcohol level recorded in both men was 'high'.

    After the jury had returned verdicts of accidental deaths in both cases, the coroner said sudden death at any time was most trying and emotional but at Christmas, a time of celebration, it was most heartbreaking.

     

     

  • The Coroner for Mayo yesterday returned a verdict of misadventure in the death of a 48-year- old woman who died at Mayo University Hospital in October 2016, after being treated for severe back pain.

    Coroner Patrick O’Connor returned the misadventure verdict in the case of Ann Marie O’Brien, a mother of four, from Windsor, Castlebar.

    Ms. O’Brien attended Mayo University Hospital on two separate occasions in the week before she died, complaining of back pain. She was not admitted on either occasion and was sent home with painkillers.

     

     At yesterday's inquest and a previous hearing, it was outlined that Ms.O’Brien had a history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other conditions including ischaemic disease.

    Damian Tansey, solicitor for the O’Brien family, said the hospital knew the deceased had been “screaming with pain” but the hospital decided to discharge her without treating her for medical rather than an orthopaedic condition.

     After being admitted to hospital by ambulance on October 2, 2016, Ms. O’Brien suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.

     

    Family members gave evidence to yesterday’s hearing that Ms. O’Brien was ‘in agony’ when admitted to hospital on September 29, 2016.

    Her only daughter Laura O'Brien described the way her mother was treated at the hospital as “appalling”, and said the last few days that she had with her mother will stay with her for the rest of her life.

     

    Dr. Omotunde Sanni, locum registrar in emergency medicine at MUH, told the inquest that his feelings were that painkillers were the appropriate treatment for Ms. O’Brien’s back pain.

     At 4.30 a.m. he said, he had a conversation with Ms O’Brien while she was in a wheelchair in a corridor. He repeated to her that she had to attend her GP for a referral to an orthopaedic clinic.

     

     After the coroner returned a verdict of misadventure, Ms Sasha Louise Gayer, senior counsel for the HSE read an ‘unreserved apology’ from the Saolta Hospital Group to Laura O’Brien expressing ‘deepest regret and sadness” for the way her mother had been treated.

     High Court proceedings have been issued by legal representatives for the O’Brien family against the Saolta Hospital Group for the manner in which their relative was treated.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • A verdict of misadventure was returned by a jury at an inquest yesterday into the death of a 25 year-old man in a single vehicle road accident near Charlestown last August.

    The impact which claimed the life of Alan O'Dowd from Lisacul, Castlerea, occurred at Laveymore – on the old Charlestown to Carracastle road – on the afternoon of Saturday, August 5.

    Mr. O'Dowd, an employee of a recycling company, died at the scene despite efforts to revive him.

    He was driving a BMW car belonging to a friend when he lost control at a bend and the vehicle spun into a gateway and dense foliage.

    Dr. Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, gave the cause of death as brain herniation due to traumatic head injuries.

    Dr. Bennani gave an opinion that the driving of the deceased at the time would have been impaired by the consumption of both ecstasy and alcohol.

    The Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O'Connor, along with Sergeant David Tiernan, on behalf of An Garda Siochana, and Annette Warde, foreperson of the inquest jury, extended their deepest sympathy to the family and relatives of the dead youth.

    Mr. O'Connor added that he was sure some good would come from the tragedy in the form of a greater realisation that drink and driving don't mix.

  • A verdict of misadventure was returned by a jury today at an inquest into the death of a 28-year-old man who was killed instantly in June 2015 while operating a stone crusher in a quarry at Aghamore, Ballyhaunis.

     The tragic death of Joseph Harrington, Sonnagh, Charlestown was the subject of an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) which prepared a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter.

    As a result, a successful prosecution was taken in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation.

    Mayo based firm Harrington Concrete and Quarries – no relation of the deceased - was recently fined a total of €500,000 at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court for breaches of health and safety in relation to the industrial accident on June 11, 2015.

     At the inquest in Castlebar today into Mr. Harrington’s death, evidence was given that he sustained fatal injuries when he fell from a height while working on the main crusher in the quarry.

    HSA Inspector Padraic McMahon told today’s hearing there was no witness to accident.

     He said there was a company safety statement at the time of the tragedy. However he said there was no written procedure in place to deal with blockages or working at heights.

    Mr McMahon added he is satisfied in relation to safety measures put in place by the company since the accident.

    Company founder and manager Frank Harrington was one of the witnesses who gave evidence at today’s inquest which was conducted by the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor.

    He explained that Joseph Harrington was employed In July 2014 as a general operative.  His role was to operate the crusher and screening plant.

    Mr. Harrington said that while the company does have the service of a Health and Safety Officer, that person was not on the site on the morning of the accident.

    He said there had been no issues with the plant which Mr. Harrington operated in recent years,

     However, he continued, approximately ten years ago some issues were raised with the general guards surrounding the plant but this was resolved at the time.

    Responding to a question from the coroner as to what steps had been taken to improve health and safety issues at the quarry, Mr. Harrington said that a full-time health and safety officer is now in place and health and safety checks are carried out on a frequent basis.

    The jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

     

     

  • A verdict of misadventure was returned by a jury today at an inquest into the death of a 28-year-old man who was killed instantly in June 2015 while operating a stone crusher in a quarry at Aghamore, Ballyhaunis.

     The tragic death of Joseph Harrington, Sonnagh, Charlestown was the subject of an investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) which prepared a file for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the matter.

    As a result, a successful prosecution was taken in relation to breaches of health and safety legislation.

    Mayo based firm Harrington Concrete and Quarries – no relation of the deceased - was recently fined a total of €500,000 at Castlebar Circuit Criminal Court for breaches of health and safety in relation to the industrial accident on June 11, 2015.

     At the inquest in Castlebar today into Mr. Harrington’s death, evidence was given that he sustained fatal injuries when he fell from a height while working on the main crusher in the quarry.

    HSA Inspector Padraic McMahon told today’s hearing there was no witness to accident.

     He said there was a company safety statement at the time of the tragedy. However he said there was no written procedure in place to deal with blockages or working at heights.

    Mr McMahon added he is satisfied in relation to safety measures put in place by the company since the accident.

    Company founder and manager Frank Harrington was one of the witnesses who gave evidence at today’s inquest which was conducted by the Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor.

    He explained that Joseph Harrington was employed In July 2014 as a general operative.  His role was to operate the crusher and screening plant.

    Mr. Harrington said that while the company does have the service of a Health and Safety Officer, that person was not on the site on the morning of the accident.

    He said there had been no issues with the plant which Mr. Harrington operated in recent years,

     However, he continued, approximately ten years ago some issues were raised with the general guards surrounding the plant but this was resolved at the time.

    Responding to a question from the coroner as to what steps had been taken to improve health and safety issues at the quarry, Mr. Harrington said that a full-time health and safety officer is now in place and health and safety checks are carried out on a frequent basis.

    The jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

     

     

  • 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.