Cyclist severely injured in collision with elderly driver settles case

Judge said it was ‘questionable’ whether pensioner ‘should have been driving’


A woman who suffered a severe head injury when she was knocked off her bicycle by a car driven by an 84-year-old man has settled her High Court action on confidential terms.

Olivia Walsh was in an induced coma for two weeks and suffered upper body fractures as a result of the accident at Ballinascarthy on the main Bandon to Clonakilty Road in Co Cork on June 2nd 2016.

At Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Denis O’Driscoll, a farmer, of Cashelmore, Bandon, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious bodily harm to Ms Walsh.

A Garda inspector told that court the pensioner had said he believed a fly had got into his eye, causing a momentary lapse in his concentration as he drove along the road.

Mr O’Driscoll only realised he had hit Ms Walsh when he got home and his son saw the damage to his car.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard his son drove back along his route and came across the scene of the crash. He then notified gardaí to interview his father, who co-operated fully with their investigation.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain, who was told Ms Walsh did not wish Mr O’Driscoll, to be jailed imposed a 12 month suspended sentence and disqualified the 84 year old from driving for ten years.

Certified to drive

The judge said it was a cause of concern to him Mr O’Driscoll could hit someone without realising and said, given his age, it was “questionable whether he should have been driving”.

The judge added: “I don’t care whether he was certified to drive.”

While aware that taking elderly people off the road made them “virtual prisoners” in their homes, the issue of older motorists being involved in crashes “is a problem that will increase in the future”, the judge also said.

In the High Court today, Ms Walsh (40), Bahona, Clonakilty, Co Cork, sued Mary O’Driscoll, Cashelmore, Bandon, the owner of the car and the driver of the car, Denis O’Driscoll also of Cashelmore, over the accident.

It was claimed Mr O’Driscoll drove too fast, failed to have any or any adequate proper lookout ,and failed to see the bicycle in time or at all.

It was also claimed there was failure to manage , manoeuvre, steer or otherwise control the vehicle so as to avoid a collision.

Ms Walsh, it was claimed, was greatly shocked by the incident. She was brought to Cork University Hospital. She lost consciousness and had cerebral haemorrhages and skull fractures. She also had facial injuries and an open fracture of her left arm and collar bone.

She remained in intensive care until June 13th 2016.

Before the accident Ms Walsh said she was ultra fit and participated in marathons including being the first Irish person to run and complete a course of 230kms across the Amazon jungle . She had also planned to take part in adventure races in the Arctic, Sweden and Denmark.

Liability was admitted in the case which was before the High Court for assessment of damages only.

After talks between the parties, Dr John O’Mahony SC, for Ms Walsh, told Mr Justice Anthony Barr the case had been resolved and could be struck out. Had it gone ahead, it would have been a long and complex case, he said.