Skip truck that killed cyclist 'defective'

 

A SKIP truck involved in an incident that caused the death of a college lecturer was in a dangerous and defective condition, an inquest heard yesterday.

Barbara Ann Gill (49), Yew Cottage, Damerstown, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, died of shock and blood loss due to multiple injuries on April 19th, 2007, after the bicycle she was cycling was in collision with the skip lorry.

The incident occurred at the junction of Wolfe Tone Quay with Temple Street West in Dublin city centre while the truck was making a left-hand turn, Dublin City Coroner’s Court heard.

The woman, who was a third-level lecturer in development aid based at the Church of Ireland College of Education, was travelling from Heuston Station on her way to work at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, and was on the left-hand side of the vehicle when the incident occurred. She was wearing a helmet.

The driver, Ricordas Valaitis, an employee of DMC Trans, who was in possession of a fake driver’s licence, did not see Ms Gill.

Ms Gill died of her injuries, which included lacerations of her liver and lung and a fracture of her neck, later that evening. She and her partner, Ruth O’Dwyer, had celebrated the birth of their son, Stephen, almost nine months earlier. At the time of her death Ms Gill was training for a mini-marathon to raise funds to build a school in Eritrea.

Following her death, her parents, Margaret and Bill, from Clonbullogue, Co Offaly, along with Ms O’Dwyer and family members on both sides, raised money to build a school in Adi Gebra, Eritrea, in her memory.

Garda John Flood, a public service vehicle inspector at Dublin Castle, said he found the Iveco rigid skip motor vehicle to be in a dangerous condition and neither the indicator lamp nor the side repeater lamp, both on the nearside of the vehicle, were working. Both the offside rear and nearside rear lenses were broken, neither of the rear tail lamps were working and the nearside rear brake was “non-effective”. He found the condition of the brakes on Ms Gill’s bicycle were poor.

The cyclist “couldn’t take evasive action to avoid a hazard due to the braking system”, said Sgt Colm Finn of the forensic accident reconstruction unit. There was a direct link between the defects in the lights on the truck and the collision and the condition of the bike’s brakes was also a factor.

The court heard that due to the presence of a blind spot, the driver was unable to see Ms Gill while at the passenger side front wheel, but that the mirrors fitted to the truck complied with the regulations in existence at the time.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of death by misadventure under the direction of coroner Dr Brian Farrell.