A coronor has recommended that all drivers carry hi-visibility vests in their car following the death of a 90-year-old man who was struck by a lorry after his car broke down.
Pat O’Haire was struck by a lorry along the N5 at Claggernagh, Islandeady, as he tried to wave down traffic on September 29, 2011. The inquest into his death heard that he was wearing dark clothing, and motorists who came upon him before the accident said they could not see him until they were ‘practically beside him’.
The 90-year-old widower from the Newport Road, Castlebar, was struck by a lorry as he tried to cross the road at approximately 9.30pm. A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Coronor for south Mayo Mr John O’Dwyer said: “I heard Mr Noel Brett of the RSA say that the RSA have distributed over one million hi-vis vests and it would be worthwhile for all drivers to have one to use if they have to get out on the road,” he said.
The inquest had heard that Mr O’Haire had left Westport at 9.05pm after visiting his cousin and was travelling towards Castlebar. Noirín Breathnach told the court that she was travelling from Westport to Castlebar when she saw an elderly man wearing dark clothes on the left-hand side of the road waving down traffic.
She considered him a danger because of his dark clothing and rang the Gardaí to inform them. When she was on the phone to the gardaí, they received a 999 call from a man who said he had knocked down an elderly person.
Another witness, Donna Geoghan explained that she was travelling towards Castlebar with her baby daughter when came upon Mr O’Haire. She said she asked him if he was okay but he could not hear what she was saying. She said she thought he smelt of drink and did not want to give him a lift because she was on her own.
She said he did not mention anything about his car nor did he ask for a mobile phone. She told him to ‘be careful, you’re wearing dark clothes no one can see you’.
As she was pulling away she saw a lorry hit Mr O’Haire as he was crossing the road. The lorry driver, Michael Lynch from Donegal, said he was no more than ten feet from Mr O’Haire when he saw him and ‘had no chance of avoiding him’.
The postmortem of Mr O’Haire found that the cause of death was multiple injuries, including lacerations to the liver and lung and injuries to his leg and forearm, which were consistent with being hit on the right-hand side. It was found that he was negative for alcohol.
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