The Director of Public Prosecutions ( DPP) has directed there there is to be no prosecution arising from a tragic accident in which an American couple travelling down the narrow Gap of Dunloe mountain pass in a trap last April were killed.
One of Killarney’s most popular tourist trips ended in tragedy when their horse suddenly and inexplicably left the road and plunged several metres down a rocky ravine
Normand La Rose, 62, originally from Canada but living in Phoenix, Arizona, and his partner Joy Few aged 64, also of Arizona, were killed on April 9th last .
They were on an Easter family holiday with Ms Joy’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren travelling in a trap behind them.
The inquest into the death of Mr La Rose opened in Killarney last August for the purposes of issuing a death certificate.
Death was the result of blunt force trauma with severe brain injury due to a fall onto rocks from a pony and trap on April 9, 2018, South and East Kerry Coroner Aisling Quilter said.
The coroner adjourned the full inquest to when garda investigations would be concluded.
The inquest into Ms Few will open in March, but again is likely to be adjourned as the period for an appeal of the DPP direction will not have been reached.
The experienced jarvey escaped physical injury but was hospitalised for shock.
The severely injured horse was put down at the scene.
Gardai have now confirmed the DPP has directed no prosecution be brought.
The gardai and family have a period of two months to appeal that direction.
However this was essentially a freak and tragic accident at a point where there was ravine, investigators believe.
It remains a mystery what caused the horse leave the road at the spot. Weather conditions were good and speed or erratic driving were not factors. Drone and other activity has been ruled out, it is understood.
A separate investigation by the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) into the accident was also conducted as it involved a work situation. The HSA which has prosecuting powers separate to the garda said on Friday it had concluded investigations and it will not be bringing charges.
What occurred was “essentially a road traffic accident.” a spokesman said. The HSA would not be making any recommendations arising from the investigations.
The Gap of Dunloe road is public and it comes under the remit of Kerry County Council.
The council said it will await the outcome of the coroner's court.
Last year the council accepted a recommendation from the coroner’s court to erect signage after another American tourist, Janet Price (69) lost her life cycling through the Gap.
Ms Price’s husband said she was an inexperienced cyclist and would not have undertaken to bike through the gap had she been aware of they dangers. Ms Price had rounded a bend and collided with a sheep trailer.
Tourists should be aware of the dangers of the route and of the multiplicity of road users on the Gap was the recommendation from the jury and coroner at her inquest in Killarney.
The Gap of Dunloe has been a tourist destination since pre-Victorian times but there has been a dramatic increase in tourist traffic in recent years with the successful promotion of the Wild Atlantic Way and interest in walking and cycling, a council meeting was told 18 months ago.
The infrastructure is not in place to help tourists or residents, a delegation from the 70 residents of the Black Valley told a meeting of the South & West Kerry Municipal District in September 2017.
Cyclists, walkers, cars, and horses and traps, were all crowding onto the single lane road, the locals said and walkers were leaving their cars parked all day without regard for residents.