The driver of the heavy goods vehicle (HGV) that collided with cyclist Louise Butler in Blackrock, Co Dublin, last August told the inquest into her death that he held her hand, asked her to "hang on" and "prayed" as she lay on the road.
Ms Butler (26) was cycling from her home in Ranelagh to work in Monkstown at about 8.40am on August 15th when she was hit by a left-turning truck, an inquest at the Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.
She was pronounced dead half an hour later at St Vincent’s University Hospital after suffering multiple injuries, including skull fractures and chest injuries.
Truck driver Stephen Bolger of Walsh Island, Co Offaly, told the court he had just made a delivery to Superquinn in Blackrock and was turning left from Frascati Road on to Carysfort Avenue towards Blackrock village when the incident happened. Mr Bolger had been to the supermarket earlier that day but returned with a pallet of goods for the shop that had got mixed in with another delivery.
The jury heard Ms Butler was on the inside, to the left of the truck, and had been going straight ahead on Frascati Road towards Monkstown.
Witness Joseph Delaney said that when he approached the junction on his bicycle he noticed the truck was indicating to turn left. He said there was not enough room for him on the inside of the truck so he went in front of it instead. “I didn’t feel safe to go inside,” he said.
Dublin Bus driver Darren Matthews said Ms Butler looked like she was under the truck’s mirror at the junction. “I could see it happening before it happened,” he said of the incident. He noted Ms Butler had been wearing a helmet.
Mr Bolger, a driver with 14 years’ HGV experience, said he was first in the traffic queue at the red lights. When the lights changed he looked in his left mirrors and “everything was clear”. He checked the mirrors again halfway around the corner to make sure he had cleared the footpath, as it was a “tight turn on the best of days”. After a few seconds he heard a “bump”, got out and saw Ms Butler on the ground.
“I put my hand on her face and called out to her to ask if she was okay,” he said. “She wasn’t responsive. I asked her to hang on. I checked her pulse and couldn’t get one. I held her hand and said a prayer.”
In his deposition, Mr Bolger said he told gardaí: “I am so sorry, I really didn’t see her. And I checked. I honestly don’t know where she came from.”
Forensic collision investigator Garda Edward Davin said he could not conclude whether Ms Butler had entered the junction on the left side of the road or from the footpath. If she had entered from the footpath, she “may have been just outside the range of the [HGV’s] left mirror”, he said. He noted the HGV had all mandatory mirrors but had some blind areas.
The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.
Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said he would write to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to inform it of the incident.
The jury expressed condolences with Ms Butler’s parents and siblings, who were in court; and empathy with the driver, who was also present.