Inquest hears ‘crazy’ manoeuvre in unroadworthy truck led to death of girl (3)

Estlin Wall was in car driven by her father who suffered severe brain injury in collision

 Amy and Vincent Wall pictured with a photograph of their daughter   after the inquest into the death of their 3 year old daughter, Estlin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Amy and Vincent Wall pictured with a photograph of their daughter after the inquest into the death of their 3 year old daughter, Estlin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

 

The family of a three-year-old girl killed in a road collision said they were left “with a renewed sense of injustice” after an inquest heard evidence of a “crazy” manoeuvre in an unroadworthy vehicle by a truck driver who caused the crash.

Several eyewitnesses told an inquest into the death of Estlin Wall at Dublin Coroner’s Court that the truck driver, Senan O’Flaherty, had tried a dangerous overtaking manoeuvre on the N85 between Ennis and Ennistymon, Co Clare.

The inquest also heard evidence that his truck was “dangerously defective.”

Ms Wall from Ard Donagh, Ennistymon, Co Clare, was in a rear child seat in a car driven by her father, Vincent Wall, at the time of the collision which occurred near Inagh, Co Clare on March 15, 2017.

She died three days later from her injuries at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin.

Amy and Vincent Wall pictured after the inquest into the death of their 3 year old daughter, Estlin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Amy and Vincent Wall pictured after the inquest into the death of their 3 year old daughter, Estlin. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

In January, the Court of Appeal upheld an appeal by the DPP that a €1,500 fine imposed on the truck driver by Ennis District Court after convictions for careless driving causing death and careless driving causing bodily harm was unduly lenient.

Instead, the court imposed a 16-month sentence on O’Flaherty (64) of Lower Gowerhass, Cooraclare, Co Clare, but suspended the full term for a period of two years. The court also upheld the €1,500 fine and a four-year driving ban.

The inquest heard the collision occurred after O’Flaherty had attempted to overtake a bus on an uphill section of road approaching a bend as Mr Wall was driving from the opposite direction.

Although Mr Wall’s car did not strike the truck, it spun out of control after going on a grass verge in an evasive manoeuvre and hit an oncoming vehicle behind the truck.

Morgan Lahiffe, whose vehicle was struck by Mr Wall’s car, said he immediately thought “bad move” when the truck started to overtake the bus. He said the truck driver appeared to struggle to keep control of his vehicle as he pulled out of the overtaking manoeuvre.

Another eyewitness, Geraldine Kilbane, who was also travelling behind the truck said she would never overtake at such a location.

Geraldine Kilbane also gave evidence at the inquest into the death of 3 year old Estlin Wall. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Geraldine Kilbane also gave evidence at the inquest into the death of 3 year old Estlin Wall. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

In a written statement, O’Flaherty claimed the bus driver had been going very slow and slowing down to 10mph on bends which led him to think there was something wrong with the bus.

O’Flaherty, who did not attend the inquest due to medical reasons, denied he had ever tried to overtake the bus as he was carrying a heavy load of boulders from a nearby quarry but he admitted pulling out to see if it was safe to overtake several times.

The driver of the bus, Martin Hurley, said he was aware the truck behind him had been trying to overtake him. “I thought it was crazy,” he recalled.

Bus driver Martin Hurley pictured after giving evidence at the inquest. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Bus driver Martin Hurley pictured after giving evidence at the inquest. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Garda Brendan Condon, a vehicle inspector, said an examination of O’Flaherty’s tipper truck had shown it was dangerously defective due to the poor condition of its tyres, steering and brakes. A tachograph had shown the truck driver had been driving erratically and constantly speeding up and braking.

Garda Brendan Condon pictured after giving evidence at the inquest. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin
Garda Brendan Condon pictured after giving evidence at the inquest. Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

An autopsy found the three year old died as a result of severe brain injury caused by the collision. The inquest also heard that Estlin’s organs, which had been donated, were successfully transplanted to other patients.

The coroner, Dr Crona Gallagher, recorded a verdict of death in accordance with associated court proceedings of death due to careless driving.

Speaking after the inquest, Estlin’s mother, Amy Wall, said the evidence had provided “a renewed sense of injustice from the criminal proceedings.”

Vincent Wall, who has no recollection of the collision in which he suffered severe brain injury, also welcomed the outcome of the inquest.