Woman left seriously injured after head-on crash
A garda described a scene of ‘ total carnage’ after a two-car head-on collision on the N59 where there were a number of people seriously hurt.
As result of the accident a retired police officer, Charles Farrell (61), of Portroyal, Dromard, had an initial charge of dangerous driving reduced to that of careless driving. The court heard he had been travelling on his incorrect side of the road some time prior to the collision.
Garda PJ Loftus of Enniscrone Garda Station said he went to the scene at Lecarrow Cross in the early hours of August 8th 2017 minutes after the collision and saw a jeep broadside on the road, the driver was behind the wheel and there was a passenger in the rear seat. Another man was lying on the road with facial injuries and he was the front seat passenger.
Garda Loftus said a second vehicle, a black BMW, was down an embankment and he could see the car was on its side facing the Sligo direction. He could see the female driver was trapped behind the wheel and in a frantic state. The fire brigades and ambulance arrived shortly after and assisted with the injured parties. The driver of the jeep, Charles Farrell, who was also trapped behind the wheel, complained of chest pains and was brought to Sligo hospital. The road was closed for hours. Garda Loftus said Sharon Nolan, driver of the BMW, was very distressed and received life changing injuries to her legs from the accident. He took statements from witnesses and the 2 parties involved, he told Judge Kevin Kilrane.
The garda said Ms Nolan in her statement said she was travelling from Sligo to Ballina where she lived and had come through Dromore West and passed the bend at Lecarrow cross and on a straight stretch when she saw a vehicle on her side of the road and within seconds there was an impact. She said she was blinded by the headlights from the vehicle and didn’t have time to react. She said everything happened suddenly. She remembered a loud bang and a sudden stop and was totally in shock.
Mr Keith O’Grady BL instructed by Mr Damien Tansey solicitor said there was no evidence of speed and there was no evidence from any other road users of prolonged bad driving from his client or overtaking other vehicles.
Judge Kilrane said the position was that he was reducing it to a charge of careless driving. He said understandably the victim had difficulty recalling what precisely happened because she suffered serious, life-changing injuries and he said on the evidence he was reducing the charge to careless driving, saying it was at the higher end of careless driving.
Mr O’Grady said his client was a 61-yearold farmer and a retired member of the police force and had never appeared in court before. He said his client had not slept for a week leading up to the court with worry.
Judge Kilrane said that the defendant was a retired police member but that is neither an aggravating or a mitigating factor that he would be treated the same in this court. He said he was satisfied that the defendant at some stage was on the incorrect side of the road but that it was not fully clear from the evidence of the injured party.
The judge said he had sympathies to her as she received very serious injuries. He said however that the outcome of this case was immaterial regarding the compensation she will receive.
He continued that the aggravating factor was that at some stage on the night in question Farrell was on the incorrect side but it wasn’t clear how long he was there for.
He took into consideration how the defendant had no previous convictions, pleaded guilty and said that in the circumstances he was going to convict and fine him €1,500 without disqualifying him.