EXTENDED SYMPATHY Coroner for Mayo, Patrick O’Connor.
THE Coroner for Mayo has described the lack of regulations and recommendations for safety equipment for quad bikes as ‘alarming’.
Mr Pat O’Connor made the remarks after a jury returned a verdict of accidental death in the inquest of Michael Anthony (Tony) O’Malley of Derrew, Ballyheane.
Mr O’Malley (67) was found dead on his farm by his wife, Catherine, after the quad he was driving flipped and suffocated him on September 21 last.
Mr O’Malley was found at the bottom of a hill, trapped underneath the vehicle. An Endura spraying machine for a quad had become detached and was lying alongside the vehicle.
Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin told the inquest that there was nothing to stop the all-terrain vehicle from falling on Mr O’Malley. He also said that the vehicle was not faulty, and that there are no regulations stating that a quad must be fitted with an anti-roll bar.
The coroner, meanwhile, called for the creation of some kind of crush-prevention mechanism, such as a device designed to prevent a quad’s weight from bearing down on someone if it landed on top of them. “There are a lot of injuries, and if they’re on land [i.e. off-road] there’s no regulations,” he said.
One of the jurors asked the court if an alarm could be fitted on the vehicle that would send out a signal, adding that Mr O’Malley could have been ‘dead for hours’ by the time he was found.
Fadel Bennani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, gave the cause of death as asphyxia due to entrapment by a vehicle.
After returning the accidental death verdict, the foreman of the jury recommended that ‘some research be carried out as to the safety of quads’.
The coroner said he echoed this recommendation, adding that it seemed ‘quite extraordinary’ in ‘this day and age’ that quads’ use and design are so unregulated.
He also pointed out that quads are often used in holiday resorts where young people are operating them, adding that he had heard of a ‘number of incidents’ that point to the need for increased safety measures.
Mr O’Connor extended his sympathy to the O’Malley family and said he hoped that some solace might be taken from the fact that ‘hopefully lessons will be learnt from this’.