Inquest gives verdict of accidental death over death of ‘seasoned cyclist’

Strong wind and glare of sunlight, reported by witnesses to collision on N22

Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

 

A verdict of accidental death has been returned at the inquest into the death of an experienced cyclist who died four years ago in a collision on the N22, main Tralee to Killarney road.

Edward Duggan (36), of Mount Henry, Firies, Killarney was “a seasoned cyclist who had cycled all his life”, the inquest into his death in Killarney Coroner’s Court was told.

He had been in the lead group with the Killarney cycle club on a Sunday morning run on November 15th, 2015.

The cyclists had gone from Killarney to Milltown, on to Tralee and had been cycling for over two hours. They were on their way back to Killarney at about 11.15am.

The lead group had stopped briefly near Scart Cross , over 3km on the Killarney side of Farranfore. Mr Duggan had eaten something there and had just set out again.

Club cyclist Brendan Cassidy said they were all cycling in single file. It was “very windy and overcast”. It was a bad day.

The road surface was good, but wet. And it was really windy, he said in his deposition, read to him by Supt Flor Murphy .

Shortly after setting out Mr Cassidy heard “a massive bang”. Initially he thought it was a tyre blow-out.

The driver of a Green Toyota Corolla, Sean O’Mahony, of Ballybeggan, Tralee, in his deposition read to him at the inquest by Supt Murphy, told how he had been driving at about 70km in the 100km zone. He and a friend were on their way to a match in Cork and had plenty of time to get there and he was not going fast.

The sun came out suddenly through a cloud and blinded him and he was pulling down his vizor when the collision occurred.

Mr O’Mahony (31) had tested negative for alcohol, had a full licence, and had no penalty points.

Both the car and the Giant 16 speed black carbon fibre bike were in good condition the inquest was told.

The windscreen of the car and the bonnet were damaged in the impact with the rear wheel of the cyclist the inquest also heard.

Garda Damien Callinan told the inquest he formed the opinion Mr O’Mahony was driving too close to the cyclist in poor weather conditions and this led to a charge of dangerous driving. (Mr O’Mahony was unanimously acquitted of the charge of dangerous driving causing the death of Mr Duggan by a jury at the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee earlier this year) .

Off-duty Garda James Crowley of Skibbereen was travelling towards Killarney at the time and was the fourth car back from the incident. He gave evidence of sunlight from the south glaring low in the horizon. He put down his sun vizor.

He saw the result of the impact, a body being thrown high into the air.

Garda Jim O’ Brien, the vehicles and forensics expert with Tralee gardaí at the time, referred to three witnesses, motorists including Mr O’Mahony who had given evidence at the inquest of a blinding glare of sunlight at the time.

It was shining diagonally onto the road surface from the left.

The car had impacted into the rear of the cyclist – both had been travelling in the same direction.

The car had been well within the speed limit and there had been a sudden ray of sunlight just at the moment of impact, the garda had concluded.

There were no brake marks on the road indicating the driver had not seen the cyclist, Garda O’Brien also said.

He also felt Mr Duggan had set out on the road “with a sense of urgency”.

However, Siobhan O’Dwyer, the partner of the late Mr Duggan questioned Garda O’Brien on this assumption. She knew Mr Duggan personally and as a cyclist, and as a group there would not have been a sense of urgency, Ms O’Dwyer said.

“If you knew him, there would be no rush for him,” she said.

He had been “a seasoned cyclist who had cycled all his life”, she added.

The coroner, Aisling Quilter, said the medical cause of death was due to traumatic brain and spinal chord injury. She returned a verdict of accidental death.

Marguerite Fitzgerald, solicitor, with Thos Halloran Solicitors Tralee on behalf of Mr O’Mahony extended his sympathy to the Duggan family .

The brother of the late Mr Duggan, Peter Duggan said Irish motorists should drive with lights on as in Italy and this would pick up reflective material on cyclists dark clothing.

The inquest had heard the deceased cyclist had been wearing dark cycling attire but with white piping at the seams.