Couple died after their car drifted to wrong side of road, inquest hears

Con and Mary McCarthy died within minutes of each other in crash near Mallow

Inquest hears fatal collision occurred on the N20 near Mallow General Hospital (above) on April 5th, 2016. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

Inquest hears fatal collision occurred on the N20 near Mallow General Hospital (above) on April 5th, 2016. Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision


An elderly couple were fatally injured when their car drifted on to the wrong side of the main Cork-Limerick road and collided with an oncoming car, an inquest has heard.

Con and Mary McCarthy, both aged 76 and from Velvetstown in Buttevant, Co Cork, were fatally injured in the two-car collision at Ashgrove on the N20 near Mallow General Hospital on the evening of April 5th last.

Erika Useviciute, a witness, told the inquest she was driving home through the 100km/h zone at a speed of 80-90km/h when she noticed a green Toyota Avensis veering on to her side of the road.

“When he came over to my side of the road and was heading towards the barrier on my left, I turned to my right to try and avoid a crash but at the last minute, he turned back left and hit me,” she recalled.

Con Cullinane and John Healy, who were travelling in a van behind the McCarthy’s car, confirmed the account of the crash given by Ms Useviciute, who suffered a broken chest bone and leg injuries in the crash.

Sgt Tony Cronin told the inquest he arrived at the scene and breathalysed Ms Useviciute and found she had no alcohol in her system. Local GP Dr Billy Christopher pronounced Ms McCarthy dead at 5.40pm and pronounced her husband, who was conscious initially, dead at 5.45pm.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said she carried out postmortems on the couple and found both had died from haemorrhage and shock to a traumatic laceration of the aorta due to a road traffic collision.

Neither had any traces of alcohol in their systems, she said.

Dr Bolster said Mr McCarthy had a history of cardiac problems and heart disease and had a defibrillator inserted. She checked the device and found no signs of irregular heart beat or arrhythmia at the time of the crash. She had checked his medical records with his GP, who surmised that such was the extent of his heart disease he might possibly have suffered a chest pain in the run up to the collision. There was, however, no evidence to prove that thesis definitely, she said.

Garda forensic crash investigator Mark O’Connor said there were no marks on the road to show the point of impact and while the Toyota ended up on its own side, he believed it was pushed back there following the collision.

‘Fake pass manoeuvre’

He said the evidence supported the view that the crash was a a result of what is known as “a fake pass manoeuvre” where one car goes on to its incorrect side and tries to correct at the last moment while the driver of the other car veers on to its incorrect side to avoid an impact and they collide

Garda Kevin Connolly, a public service vehicle inspector, found the occupants of the two cars had been wearing seatbelts. He was satisfied both cars were road worthy prior to the collision. Sgt Cronin said said council engineers had examined the crash scene and were satisfied there were no issues with the road.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and North Cork Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy said he hoped the inquest had provided some answers for the McCarthy family, even though clearly there was still no explanation as to why the car veered across the road.