Fatal crash driver on provisional licence


Inquest jury says provisional driving law should be applied

A JURY HAS recommended that the law regarding provisional drivers be fully enforced after hearing how a young woman had been driving for just four weeks when she lost control of her car and crashed into a wall, resulting in the death of two of her passengers.

Theresa Dingivan (21), Rathcarrig, Pike Road, Fermoy, Co Cork, was on her first provisional licence and had never taken any driving lessons from a trained instructor when she crashed at Strawhall just outside Fermoy on the night of August 5th, 2007.

Two local men, Michael Murphy (22), Main Street, Castlelyons, and James Sexton (19), Firmount, Castlelyons, who were both back-seat passengers in Ms Dingivan’s car, were killed in the crash which happened at about 9pm.

Ms Dingivan was later charged with dangerous driving causing their deaths but was found not guilty of both charges by a jury following a trial which lasted five days at Cork Circuit Criminal Court last November.

Ms Dingivan told the inquest into both deaths yesterday that she had been in the Peddlars Bar in Castlelyons that afternoon drinking 7up and was bringing her sister, Bridget, and their friend, Cillian Smith, into Fermoy when the two men asked her for a lift.

She had put on her seatbelt and she saw both her sister, who was in the front passenger seat, and Mr Smith, who was in the rear left seat, put on their seatbelts but she didn’t see either of the deceased put on their seatbelts when they got into the back seat, she said.

Ms Dingivan said she did not believe she was speeding and that she was doing about 50km/h when she went to overtake another car but she lost control of the steering and her car collided with the piers and wall of a house on the right-hand side of the road.

“It was like the steering wheel was pulling hard to the right. I was holding on to the steering wheel tight. The first time it pulled, I could control it, the second time I couldn’t control it at all,” she told the inquest before the coroner for north Cork, Dr Michael Kennedy.

The inquest heard that part of the roof of the car was sheared off in the impact and that both Mr Murphy and Mr Sexton were thrown from the vehicle.

Mr Murphy was killed instantly and Mr Sexton was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later.

Garda Micheál O’Donovan said he found that the 13-year-old Honda Civic car was in a roadworthy condition before the crash and believed that a combination of speed, weight in the car and Ms Dingivan’s inexperience as a driver were factors in the collision.

Forensic crash investigator Garda Tom Dunlea said he believed from marks on the road that the car had travelled some 87 metres out of control and that it was travelling between between 96km/h and 108km/h at the time of the collision.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure in the case of both young men and recommended that the law regarding provisional licence holders be fully enforced.