US tourist who crashed into vintage car gets suspended sentence

West Cork couple in 1934 Morgan struck by hired car driven by visitor from Illinois

An American tourist who turned off a main road in West Cork and crashed into a couple in a vintage car has been given a 12-month suspended jail term.

Edward Dambrauskas (73) from Arlington Avenue, Le Grange, Illinois, pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to a charge of dangerous driving causing serious harm to Des and Sue McWilliams, who are in their 60s.

Det Garda Martin Bohane told the court Dambrauskas was driving east from Ballydehob along the main N71 towards Skibbereen on June 15th, 2016 when he began to turn right at Kilcoe.

However, Dambrauskas misjudged the distance between him and the oncoming 1934 Morgan being driven by Mr McWilliam, who was out for a spin in the car with his wife.


Dambrauskas crashed into the vintage vehicle and Mr McWilliams suffered a fractured ankle while Ms McWilliams suffered a broken femur which led her to being airlifted to Cork University Hospital.

Det Garda Bohane said Ms McWilliams’ injury was serious and it ultimately led to her have having a hip replacement, but she has since made a good recovery and did not wish to make a victim impact statement.

Defence barrister Donal O’Sullivan said the dangerous driving lay in his client misjudging the distance to the oncoming vintage car and he in effect pulled out in front of it and caused the crash.

Mr O’Sullivan said Dambrauskas fully admitted his responsibility and he had co-operated in full with the investigation and travelled back from Illinois every time the case was listed in court.

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin noted there were no aggravating factors such as alcohol or speed involved in the crash and Dambrauskas's rented Renault Captur was not defective prior to the crash.

He also noted Dambrauskas had co-operated fully with gardaí and admitted the error and pleaded guilty, sparing the McWilliams from having to testify in a trial, and these factors were all to his credit.

He said he would mark the seriousness of the offence by imposing a 12-month term but would suspend it in its entirety while he also banned Dambrauskas from driving for a statutory five years.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times