Eu­gene Ma­her (62) A screech­ing of brakes and a loud scream

Eu­gene Ma­her (62) from Fairview in Dublin was se­ri­ously in­jured on June 30th, 2015, while cross­ing with his bike at a pedes­trian green light on the Clon­tarf road. He died that night from head in­juries.

The Irish Times - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Eu­gene Ma­her knew the cy­cle to Dol­ly­mount Strand like the back of his hand. “Cy­cling was his pas­sion,” re­mem­bers Eu­gene’s daugh­ter Lisa. “He loved to keep fit and he loved the sea air. He’d go and sit at the light­house at Dol­ly­mount where he’d pon­der the world and get lost in his thoughts.” Born in Fairview, the 62-year-old often cy­cled the length of the prom­e­nade to Howth in his youth.

On the fi­nal day of June 2015, Eu­gene woke up to clear skies, sun­shine and very warm weather. He worked from home in a small pur­pose-built of­fice in the back gar­den of the fam­ily’s home in Drum­con­dra. He was sched­uled to have a meet­ing that Tues­day af­ter­noon but when it was can­celled he de­cided to go out­side and en­joy the sun­shine.

“The sun was split­ting the stones and I think it was the hottest day of 2015,” says Lisa. “He was a fit­ness fa­natic but he was su­per cau­tious. He’d walk half a mile down the road to cross at the pedes­trian lights.”

Af­ter cy­cling his usual route to the strand, Eu­gene turned the bike around to head home for his din­ner. He cy­cled from the seafront cy­cle path to the Al­fie Byrne road, crossed at the lights, and con­tin­ued his jour­ney along the foot­path to­wards the pedes­trian lights out­side the West Wood gym on the Clon­tarf road.

Mean­while, un­known to Eu­gene, a car filled with a group of young men was trav­el­ling at speed down the coast road to­wards the Clon­tarf road in­ter­sec­tion. He did not hear the cheer­ing from the ve­hi­cle as it swerved into the bus lane and sped past the rush hour traf­fic stopped at red lights.

As the pedes­trian l i ght turned green, Eu­gene set off across the road. Com­muters head­ing home for the evening would l ater de­scribe the screech­ing of brakes and a l oud scream a split sec­ond be­fore the sound of im­pact.

The driver tried to stop the car by do­ing a hand­brake turn which caused the car to spin and hit Eu­gene at full force. “They took no re­gard for that red light and hit my dad at 70km/ h. My dad went up on the roof, the wind­screen, the bon­net and then hit the ground. He was knocked unconscious.”

The emer­gency ser­vices were called and the doc­tor ar­ranged for Eu­gene to be trans­ferred to Beau­mont. When the paramedics ar­rived they used the emer­gency con­tacts on his phone to call his wife Marie.

“My mam had the din­ner on the ta­ble. She an­swered the phone ask­ing ‘where are you, you’re late?’. The para­medic told her she needed to go to Beau­mont.”

Lisa had spent that Tues­day af­ter- noon en­joy­ing the sun­shine in the back gar­den of her home in Ash­bourne with her two young sons, Harry and Jack. Like every week, she was plan­ning to visit her par­ents in Drum­con­dra the fol­low­ing day. Shortly be­fore din­ner, at around 7.30pm, the phone rang.

“My mam said: ‘ Your dad’s been knocked down but I think he’s okay.’ Some­thing in­side me said this isn’t right. Lisa left her part­ner Dar­ren to look af­ter the boys and jumped in the car.

As soon as she ex­plained to the re­cep­tion­ist in Beau­mont Hospi­tal who she was, a nurse ap­peared and led her briskly through the emer­gency de­part­ment to meet her mother. “They brought us tea and cof­fee and were mak­ing a fuss of us. I said to mam, ‘they don’t do this nor­mally’.”

A short time later a garda came into the room and ex­plained to Lisa and her mother that Eu­gene had been knocked down in a hit- and- run but that gar­daí across Dublin were search­ing for the driver. Then the doc­tors ar­rived in the room.

“I’ll never for­get that doc­tor look­ing at my mam and say­ing ‘I’m very sorry, there’s noth­ing more we can do’. She went into shock and I screamed, I lost it com­pletely. I still feel like I’ve never left that room.”

Ini­tially the fam­ily was told they would have 24 hours to say their good­byes to Eu­gene. How­ever, at 11pm a nurse urged the fam­ily to get to the ICU as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We were told it was a mat­ter of min­utes, that his vi­tal or­gans were shut­ting down. He was propped up in the bed with bandages and blood. It wasn’t the way I wanted to see my dad in his fi­nal mo­ments.”

Lisa, her mother and brother were with Eu­gene when he died shortly be­fore mid­night on Tues­day, June 30th. “That was it. My whole life was turned up­side down in a mat­ter of hours.”

Six days later, 27- year- old Christo­pher Cole­man was ar­rested for driv­ing his car into Eu­gene and later pleaded guilty to dan­ger­ous driv­ing and caus­ing his death. He was sen­tenced to 2½ years’ im­pris­on­ment and dis­qual­i­fied from driv­ing for 15 years. In 2017, fol­low­ing a re­view of his sen­tence by the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions, Cole­man’s jail time was in­creased by nine months.

“I hate that man for what he did. In a split sec­ond he took con­trol of every as­pect of our life. It’s so hard to ac­cept it but at the same time if I har­bour those feel­ings it’s like drink­ing poi­son and ex­pect­ing some­one else to die. I’m speak­ing for my­self, not my mum or brother, but I can’t keep that hate in­side me be­cause it ef­fects every part of my life.”

Nearly three years on, Lisa is still com­ing to terms with the loss of the man she says was her “best friend”. “I never thought it would be me. We can all have an im­pact if we’re safer, slow down and we don’t use our phones while driv­ing. Don’t let my story be­come your story.”

‘‘ I hate that man for what he did. In a split sec­ond he took con­trol of every as­pect of our life

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