Taxi driver veered off M50 and crashed into truck for ‘no apparent reason’, inquest told

Michael Sterio from Knocklyon, Co Dublin, died instantly as a result of crash in September 2020

A taxi driver was killed after his cab veered off the M50 in Dublin for no apparent reason, and crashed into a broken-down truck parked on the hard shoulder of the motorway, an inquest has heard.

The driver, Michael Sterio (70), a married father of six of Garthy Wood, Knocklyon, Co Dublin, died instantly as a result of the crash which occurred on the southbound side of the M50 between Junction 12 (Firhouse) and Junction 13 (Dundrum/Sandyford) at about 2.40pm on September 8th.

A sitting of Dublin District Coroner’s Court on Tuesday heard evidence from several eyewitnesses that the victim’s silver Renault Fluence suddenly veered off the left lane of the motorway into the hard shoulder.

A driver with Kilsaran Concrete, Denis Joyce, told the inquest how he had parked on the hard shoulder of the M50 after suffering a blow-out with one of the tyres on his Scandia tipper truck.


Mr Joyce said he had been sitting in the passenger seat of his truck waiting for assistance for about 15 minutes, when he heard a bang at the back of the vehicle. Mr Joyce said he found a car underneath his truck with a man slumped across the steering wheel.

Mr Joyce told the coroner, Cróna Gallagher, that his truck was completely parked off the M50 on the hard shoulder.

A motorist who was travelling directly behind Mr Sterio’s taxi, Gillian Comerford, said she saw the vehicle veer towards the hard shoulder and crash into the back of the truck. “It was very smoothly done. It was just drifting. There was no indicator,” she added.

Ms Comerford said there was no sign of the taxi slowing down until about one second before the crash when she saw its brake lights go on.

Another motorist, Sinead Young, who was driving in the southbound middle lane of the M50 approximately parallel with the taxi, said she believed the taxi driver was going at the same speed as herself, which was approximately 80km/h on a stretch of the motorway with a 100km/h speed limit. Ms Young said the truck in the hard shoulder did not have any hazard lights on to warn traffic.

A paramedic who was alerted to the collision by the eyewitnesses, Ken O’Dwyer, said Mr Sterio was “beyond medical help” at the scene. The inquest heard tests showed both the victim’s taxi and the truck were in good mechanical condition.

A forensic collision investigator, Garda Barry McCormack said he found no evidence to explain why the deceased’s vehicle had veered off on to the hard shoulder.

The witness said it was most likely that Mr Sterio had not lost conscious control of his vehicle. “The use of the brake light shows there was conscious control,” he observed.

The investigating garda, Patrick Tarrant, said no criminal prosecution had arisen from the case. Garda Tarrant told the inquest that a mobile phone, which Mr Sterio was believed to have with him at the time of the crash, was never located at the scene.

Mr Sterio’s wife, Mairéad, said he had been in good form with nothing out of the ordinary earlier that day.

The results of a postmortem showed the victim had died from multiple traumatic injuries consistent with a road traffic crash. Dr Gallagher said the autopsy had found no evidence to suggest he had suffered some acute medical event that might have contributed to what happened, while alcohol was not a factor.

Based on the evidence, the coroner returned an open verdict “to reflect the gap in the evidence despite everyone’s best efforts”, as she claimed it was not possible to fully rule out several possible scenarios.

Addressing the inquest to thank all the witnesses, gardaí and emergency services, a representative of the Sterio family said they had never held the truck driver responsible in any way for what happened.