Three generations killed on ‘Russian roulette route’, Mayo coroner says

Lorry driver collected toys belonging to boy (7) on the roadside and ‘said a little prayer’

A coroner has described a stretch of the N17 road, where three generations of a family – a grandmother, her daughter and grandson – died last September, as “a Russian roulette route”.

The deaths of Mary Ann Wilson (67), Marcella Wilson (39) and Sean Wilson (7), all from the Belmullet area of Co Mayo, highlighted what he said were dangers caused by junctions on the N17, particularly between Knock and Ballindine.

The Wilsons were killed instantly when their saloon car collided with an articulated lorry on the N17 junction at Lisduff, Claremorris. At their inquest on Tuesday, Mayo coroner Patrick O’Connor said entrances onto the N17 need to be looked at by road authorities.

“All drivers aren’t stopping at the junctions”, Mr O’ Connor said. “They are driving onto the hard shoulder without stopping. They are treating the junctions as slip roads. It is extremely dangerous.”


Unspeakable horror

Mr O’Connor described the impact as “an unspeakable horror”. The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death on all three Wilson family members. Sergeant Gabriel McLoughlin said it was apparent from an examination of the scene that the car travelled onto the N17 and impacted onto the passenger side of the semi-trailer.

The two front seat passengers were wearing seatbelts but Sean Wilson, who was flung from the vehicle, was not restrained due to the incorrect fitting of a rear seat safety belt.

The Wilsons, who were travelling to Galway at the time, died when their car collided with a lorry, owned by Killacroy Logistics and driven by Mark Tierney, Oldcastle, Co Meath.

Mr Tierney, in a deposition read to Tuesday’s inquest, said he remembered passing a junction and hearing a loud bang which shook his lorry and trailer. He said he thought he had a blowout. But when he ran to the back of the lorry, he spotted the child lying on the road at the back of the lorry.

Mr Tierney later collected toys belonging to the boy on the roadside and put them beside him. “I said a little prayer for him”, he recounted.

A witness to the impact, Kenneth Groarke from Oranmore. Galway said he saw the C3 go slowly up to the stop line at the junction but not fully stopping.

“It appeared to creep slowly out on the road. It’s like she (Marcella Wilson) didn’t see the truck at all,” he said.

Each of the victims received what were described by Dr Fadel Bannani, consultant pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, as ‘traumatic head injuries’ in the violent impact.