Drunk driver who killed friends says he wishes he could take back what he did

Inquest heard Kiara Baird and Maria Wallace died when Dermot Dowd (24) lost control of a car in Donegal

Friends Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallace (38) died when Dermot Dowd (24) lost control of a car he was driving outside Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on September 21st, 2016. Photograph: North West Newspix

Friends Kiara Baird (19) and Maria Wallace (38) died when Dermot Dowd (24) lost control of a car he was driving outside Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on September 21st, 2016. Photograph: North West Newspix

 

A drunk driver who killed two women after a drink and drugs binge said he would do anything to take back what he did.

Friends Kiara Baird (19), and Maria Wallace (38) died when Dermot Dowd (24) lost control of a car he was driving outside Ballybofey, Co Donegal, on September 21st, 2016.

Dowd initially tried to claim Ms Wallace, a mother of three, was driving the Citroën C3 car which crashed at Glenfin Road. He later admitted drinking for hours in a local bar with the two women before getting behind the wheel.

Dowd pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court to dangerous driving causing death and last February he was jailed for five years and banned from driving for fifteen years by Judge John Aylmer.

He was back at Letterkenny courthouse on Wednesday to face the relatives of the dead women at their inquests.

The Dubliner, with an address at Donegal Road, Ballybofey, told how he met them at Bonner’s Bar in Ballybofey earlier in the day.

Both women were drinking and he said he drank a number of pints, as well as vodka and whiskey, and had some weed. Everyone was in good form.

They decided to go to Maria Wallace’s house and the women asked Dowd to drive Ms Wallace’s Citroën car as they did not want to, he said.

Dowd said none of the three of them were wearing seatbelts. He said he slowed up towards a bend but the car started to slide and then he suddenly heard a bang. He looked around and the women were gone. It all happened so fast, he said.

“I’m sorry and I would do anything to change what happened,” he added.

The day on which the women were killed was the official European Day Without a Road Death.

Airborne

Lou Ann Glacken said she had just collected her daughter Tory from school just after 4pm and was driving home. She saw a small blue car close to her house and it was “like a rocket.” Both herself and her daughter took in a sharp breath as they realised the car was not going to take a bend in the road.

“I was scared for myself and Tory. It did not make the corner and it collided with either a pole or a trailer. The car was airborne, it was nearly the height of a trailer. It was spinning in the air and I could see debris flying off it. The car then went out of sight. It was like it was blown up,” she said.

Garda Michelle Kelly said when she arrived she saw two young women lying on the ground parallel to each other and a man was keeling down holding one of the women.

She said Kiara Baird was not breathing. She was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. Maria Wallace was pronounced dead at Letterkenny University Hospital at 5.50pm.

Garda forensic collision investigator Gerry McCauley said he could not give an exact speed the car was travelling at but confirmed it was “considerably over the speed limit.” The car hit a lamppost and was then thrown 109 feet into the layby of a nearby yard.

The jury of three women and seven men found the cause of both women’s deaths was head injury as a result of a road traffic collision.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley offered his sympathy to both families and said it was simply “an awful tragedy.”

Tracey Baird, the mother of Ms Baird, addressed the coroner’s court and said she wanted to thank Mr Dowd for staying with her daughter after the accident.

“After the accident, there was a lot of horrible rumours especially about Mr Dowd and today we got a few answers. Thank you for that. We now realise he helped Kiara in her last hours and we want to thank him for holding her and being there,” she said.