Mother says she was woken to ‘every parent’s worst nightmare’ at 4am

Sean Egan (17) died after a car crash in Co Sligo in March 2016

A mother’s tribute to her 17-year-old son who was killed after a young driver lost control of his car hitting a wall, has been described as “heart-rending” by a judge.

Helen Egan, mother of Sean Egan, from near Templeglantine in Co Limerick had told Sligo Circuit Court that her son was the anchor of their family and they missed "his voice, his lovely smile, his hearty laugh and his sense of humour". She said 35 months after this death the pain was as raw as ever.

Judge Francis Comerford sentenced 21-year-old Patrick Flynn from Farrellmacfarrell, Dromore West in Co Sligo to 100 hours community service and disqualified him from driving for 10 years on a charge of careless driving causing death.

The judge found the main cause of the incident, which claimed the life of Sean Egan, was that the handbrake of the car had been applied . The accused had told gardaí his passenger had pulled the handbrake without warning and he had lost control of the car.


The judge said the defendant had some culpability for driving while affected by alcohol, for exceeding the speed limit and for not ensuring that his passenger was wearing a seat belt.

The court heard on the night of March 18th, 2016 five young men including the accused and Sean Egan had been out together in the village of Enniscrone .

The accused had been at football training earlier. The group were drinking on the beach and later in a bar . Sometime about 1am three of them went to a fast food restaurant.

The defendant and the deceased had stayed to finish their drinks and were on their way to meet up with the others when the incident happened at Pier Road in Enniscrone.

In a statement to gardaí the accused said his passenger had pulled the handbrake without warning and he had lost control. The car skidded around and hit a building.

The court heard that CCTV footage showed Mr Flynn had been travelling at a speed of from 56km/h to 75km in a 50km zone.

Neither men were wearing seatbelts. Mr Egan suffered very serious head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

In a victim impact statement Helen Egan had told the court that the family had never got a chance to say goodbye to their “handsome red haired Seanie boy”. She said they had been awoken by gardaí at 4am that night “to every parent’s worst nightmare”. The hardest thing they ever had to do as parents was to wake Sean’s younger sisters and brother who “loved the ground he walked on” to tell them their brother “ was never coming home”.

She said her son had played hurling, had a passion for motocross and had an All-Ireland medal for boxing. He was studying mechanical engineering in Limerick IT.

Ms Egan said they would always wonder what path in life he would have taken. She praised her son’s friends who kept in touch and and still visited his grave. “It is upsetting to see them getting on with their lives and he will forever be 17 years and 11 months”.

Referring to the accused she said that he had not shown remorse .

Mr Colm Smyth SC for the defence said gardaí had agreed that speed was not a major contributing factor in the incident.

The court was told the defendant and his family had attended Mr Egan’s wake and a meeting had subsequently been arranged between the two families.

Patrick Flynn told the court he was very sorry for what had happened. “I think about it every day” he said.

Judge Comerford praised Ms Egan for her dignified and insightful statement. “I found it heart rending,” he said.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland