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Special Olympian died enjoying passion for life and fun

Edel Boyle
Edel Doyle is pictured here after being picked on the Irish team to compete at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games. Pic: Sportsfile

Mayo’s Special Olympian died enjoying her ‘passion for life’

Anton McNulty

A SPECIAL Olympian who was killed in a tragic beach buggy accident on Lacken Strand last March died while indulging her passion for life and fun, according to her family.
Edel Doyle (25) died in Mayo General Hospital on March 27 last as a result of injuries she sustained when the single-seater beach buggy in which she was a passenger overturned on Lacken Strand and flipped up to three times.
Ms Doyle, who was a bronze medalist at the 2007 Special Olympics in Beijing, was a passenger in the buggy which was driven by James McNulty, who was performing ‘doughnuts’ on the strand – spinning the car in such a way that the tyre marks created circular patterns in the sand. Mr McNulty of Lacken was also the co-owner of the buggy and was wearing a safety harness at the time of the accident but Ms Doyle was not.

No blame
The family of Ms Doyle told her inquest that they did not hold Mr McNulty responsible for her death and that they felt he had suffered enough as a result of the death.
“Although our family are devastated by her tragic accident, we know it was a bit of fun that went tragically wrong on a nice sunny day on the beach,” her sister, Michelle said. “It was Edel’s way of living, and she enjoyed the thrills. We don’t want James McNulty to get into trouble over this, he has to live with this for the rest of his life.”
Ms Doyle, who was originally from Ballina lived in Crossmolina as a foster child after her Junior Cert, and her foster mother Mary Sweeney also said she died doing what she loved.
“Edel was always up for fun and loved enjoying life. She loved quads and go-karts and regularly went on them. It was one of her passions. That day they were all enjoying their passion when the accident occurred.”
The inquest heard that Ms Doyle lived with her partner, Seán Golden, in Killala and they had arranged with their friends the day before to bring the buggy and their quad on Lacken Strand.

Fun gone wrong
Mr Golden and Ms Doyle arrived at the beach around 2pm, where they met James McNulty and other friends. Mr Golden explained that Ms Doyle’s legs were not long enough to reach the pedals but she would go on it as a passenger.
When they arrived, Mr McNulty was sitting on the buggy and Ms Doyle sat on his knees and they went on the beach. He said they were back and over the beach and were turning when the accident occurred.
He explained he could not remember the accident but other witnesses said they were performing doughnuts on the sand and it flipped up to three times. The witnesses said they were both unconscious but Ms Doyle was breathing badly and was coughing up blood.
Ms Doyle was caught in between the frame of the buggy and they managed to lift it when Mr McNulty came around. The emergency services were called and CPR was performed on Ms Doyle before she was brought to Mayo General Hospital. She passed away at 8.30pm and a postmortem found she died as a result of a fractured dislocated vertebra due to a broken neck.
The inquest heard the buggy was bought on DoneDeal and work was carried out on it but an inspection found it was not roadworthy.
A verdict of accident death was recorded by the jury and Coroner. Mr John O’Dwyer expressed his sympathy to Ms Doyle’s family on ‘this most tragic accident’. He said he was touched by the compassion shown to Mr McNulty and described the incident as an unfortunate situation for all involved.