Helmet 'probably would not have made a difference' to Cork cyclist killed, inquest hears

File photo

A well-known West Cork-based artist suffered fatal head and neck injuries and died a week after the electric-assisted bike he was riding collided with a car.

Cork City Coroner's Court was told that Robert Ian Ball, 64, who was originally from the UK but who had been living for some at Lissaclarig in Ballydehob, was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision near Skibbereen in April 2017.

He was cycling downhill at up to 30kph, he did not yield at a junction and he was on the wrong side of the road when he collided with a car.

However, assistant state pathologist Dr Margot Bolster said wearing a helmet probably wouldn't have made a difference in this case given the relatively high speed of the collision.

The inquest was told that Michael McCarthy, 74, was driving a car and pulling a trailer with fencing at Lissanoohig, about 3km from Skibbereen, at around 11.45am on April 21, 2017, when the collision occurred.

In his deposition, Mr McCarthy said he saw a bicycle coming “straight at me” before the collision at a junction.

He said the cyclist was thrown onto the bonnet of his car, smashing the windscreen on the driver’s side, and then fell onto the road.

Mr Ball was treated at the scene by HSE paramedics and Dr Jason van der Velde of West Cork Rapid Response before he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital where he was pronounced dead eight days later, on April 29.

Dr Bolster said Mr Ball suffered a traumatic brain injury and a severe upper spinal injury. “Wearing a helmet probably would not have made a difference at a high speed,” she said.

Mr Ball was cycling Gazelle Pedelec bicycle which had been bought just two months earlier for €2,800.

The inquest was told that the bike was in a roadworthy condition but was not classified as a mechanically propelled vehicle and did not require insurance.

Sergeant Jim Delea told the court that Mr Ball should have yielded at the junction, that he was on the wrong side of the road at the time of impact, that he had cut the corner and there was no attempt to brake.

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