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Family plead for more protection for cyclists

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TRAGIC DEATH The late Patrick McHale.

Verdict of accidental death recorded at Ballina cyclist’s inquest

Edwin McGreal

Both the Coroner for Mayo and the family of a cyclist killed outside Ballina have appealed for more to be done to protect cyclists after the inquest into his death in Castlebar yesterday (Monday).
Keen cyclist Patrick McHale of Rathglass West, Knockanillaun, Ballina, died on May 30, 2017, two days after being struck by a car at Rathroneen, Ballina.
The inquest heard Mr McHale’s bicycle was struck from the rear by a car driven by Nuala Delaney-Whelan from Ballycastle. Both Mr McHale and Ms Whelan were heading in the direction of Killala, away from Ballina.
Ms Delaney-Whelan told the inquest that she was driving with her mother in the front seat when, just before the collision, ‘a cyclist wearing dark clothing came from the left into the middle of my carriageway as though he was heading for the centre of the road’.
She said she turned right, in an effort to go around the cyclist but struck the rear of his bike with the front left of her car.
“I am devastated by what has happened but the bike appeared so suddenly in front of me that I do not believe I could have done anything other than what I did at the time,” said Ms Delaney-Whelan in her statement.
Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin said there was a clear view of 214 metres approaching the point of collision.

Trial
Earlier this year Ms Delaney-Whelan was convicted of careless driving. She received an 18-month suspended jail sentence and a four-year driving ban.
Caroline McLoughlin, solicitor for the McHale family, read a statement out on their behalf after the inquest. The family described the loss of their husband and father as ‘devastating’. They expressed their gratitude to all who came to the assistance of Patrick after the accident and to all their family, neighbours and friends for their ongoing support.
“Patrick McHale is best described as a man who lived for his family and his community. A quiet man, Patrick loved the simple things in life and cherished his wife and three children, Patrick Junior, Melody and Darren together with his close circle of friends who he would always greet with a warm smile. Patrick worked as a caretaker in his local church, school and graveyard as well as his farming duties at home. He was an active man and a seasoned cyclist, known locally for his participation in charity cycles. He is and will continue to be missed dearly by his family, neighbours and friends,” stated Ms McLoughlin.

Vigilant
They went on to call for road users to be more vigilant.
“No family should ever have to experience such devastating loss and it is the family’s hope that they can create awareness for all road users, especially vulnerable road users, in particular cyclists and pedestrians. Their message today is life is precious and with this they urge that all road users are extra vigilant while using our roadways,” added Ms McLoughlin.
Coroner Pat O’Connor expressed the hope that government authorities and local authorities give consideration to a policy which will reflect the growing numbers of cyclists on Irish roads.
He said there are ‘too many accidents’ involving cyclists and suggested more signs on roads used frequently by cyclists. He extended his sympathies to the McHale family.
The jury at the inquest returned a verdict of accidental death.