Speed limit of 100km/h at pedestrian crossing ‘incomprehensible’, inquest hears

Student Denise Crowley died after getting off Cork to Killarney bus at Glenfesk village

A metal sign obscured the pedestrian from the car and the car was obscured from the pedestrian by the same sign, the inquest was told. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

A metal sign obscured the pedestrian from the car and the car was obscured from the pedestrian by the same sign, the inquest was told. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A garda expert has criticised road signage and the 100 km per hour speed limit at a pedestrian crossing where a student was killed in Co Kerry.

Speaking at the inquest of Denise Crowley (26), public service vehicle inspector and forensics examiner, Garda James O’ Brien said it was “incomprehensible” to him that a pedestrian crossing designed for “wheelchair users, children, the visually impaired” was governed by a 100km per hour speed limit.

UCC student Denise Crowley (26) of Gortarrig, Headford, Killarney, was killed on the N22 while walking towards her mother’s car at Glenflesk village, Killarney on December 1st, 2017.

The evening was dark and foggy and Ms Crowley, a computer science student, had got off the Cork to Killarney bus, waited for some moments by a wall, made phone calls, then put away her phone and pulled up her hood and fixed her bag on her back and began to cross the road to the Church, the inquest heard.

She was three-quarters away across when she was struck from the right by a car at around 7.15 pm.

Clear and good quality cctv had captured much of the incident.

Garda O’ Brien found a metal road sign, comprising a pole and blue disc at torso height, in place to guide motorists away from the footpath at the location had obscured views of the road. The pedestrian was obscured from the car by the sign, and the car was obscured from the pedestrian by the same sign. The cctv showed Ms Crowley looking to her left, the Killarney side, as she crossed the road but it did not appear she looked to her right.

The driver, Gerard Hourigan, was travelling between 51km and 60 km an hour and did not have enough time to take avoidance action, Garda O’Brien said.

In her deposition, read by Garda Supt Flor Murphy, Grace Crowley, who was visibly upset in the stand, told how she had gone by bus from Glenflesk to Cork that morning to visit her husband Denis at CUH and returned to Killarney by bus. Denise had an assignment to hand in at UCC and took a later bus home.

‘That could be my daughter’

Ms Crowley met her sister in Killarney and did some shopping. As they made their way to Glenflesk church to collect her car, they noticed something black on the road.

“I said out loud, ‘that could be my daughter’,” she said. She rang her daughter’s phone and a man answered and said there had been an accident.

Glenflesk was “the regular spot for students to get off and on the bus”, she said, and Denise was home every weekend.

Alan Hourigan a front seat passenger in the car driven by his father Gerard told of their shock and of how he got out and checked for Denise’s pulse. Hearing Grace Crowley at the scene saying “Denise come back to me” was one of the most difficult things for him, Alan Hourigan said.

The report of Dr Margot Bolster, pathologist, found death would have been very rapid.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death as a result of a road traffic accident

Coroner, Aisling Quilter, said she was recommending a lower speed limit.

At the end of the inquest the solicitor for Gerard Hourigan conveyed his condolences to the Crowley family.