Inquest hears car not fitted with airbag
THE inquest into the death of an 18-year-old Erris man heard there was no airbag in the car he was driving as it had been adapted with a sports steering wheel.
Jonathon Shevlin of Cairne, Belmullet, died when the Honda Integra car he was driving lost control, left the road, crashed through a wall and landed on its roof in a field. The incident took place on July 9, 2014, at Tarmon, Blacksod. Mr Shevlin suffered multiple injuries and died at the scene, shortly after the crash.
His friend Niall McGonigle, who was a front-seat passenger, was injured in the accident and was airlifted to hospital in Castlebar, where he spent a week recovering from his injuries.
Mr Shevlin, who had just completed his Leaving Cert, had bought the 1999-registered car the day before the accident and had taken it for a spin towards Blacksod before going back to work.
A report into the incident found that car had lost due to oversteer, which caused the car to broadside and go out of control. The car then went through a low wall, badly damaging the driver’s side.
Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin, who examined the car and the scene, explained that there was no airbag on the steering wheel, as a sports steering wheel had been fitted.
The accident occurred at approximately 5.30pm. A witness who was overtaken by the car shortly before the accident thought it was going fast. Mr McGonigle said he could not remember the accident, but when asked by the Coroner, Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald, if they were going fast, he said they were.
Jonathon’s father, Michael Shevlin, said his son loved cars and had been driving for just over a year. He said Jonathon had only taken the car for a test drive the night before and he did not know he had taken it out. He added his son knew the road well and often went on it for a spin.
Dr Fadel Bennani, Consultant Pathologist, explained that Mr Shevlin had multiple injuries including fractured ribs, laceration to the liver and haemorrhaging to the abdomen with one litre of loose blood found following the post mortem. He said even if he was taken to intensive care it would have been difficult to keep him alive. He added that tests had found neither alcohol nor drugs.
The jury recorded a verdict of accidental death. Dr Fitzgerald said this was an unnecessary loss of life and urged all young drivers to experience caution when driving. She said the evidence showed that if the car was not travelling fast it would not have gone out of control, describing the incident as a ‘warning to us all’.
She described the death as tragic and expressed sympathy to the Shevlin family and to Mr McGonigle. Sergeant Dermot Butler also expressed sympathy on behalf of the Garda Síochána.