A mother and daughter drowned in a flooded field after they were involved in a two-car collision just days before Christmas, an inquest has heard, writes Eoin English .
Coroner Dr Michael Kennedy was told yesterday that Geraldine Clancy, 58, and her daughter Louise, 22, from the townland of Leitrim, near Kilworth, Fermoy, in Co Cork, both died from acute cardiorespiratory failure due to drowning after their car was involved in a collision with another car on the Fermoy to Ballyduff road at about 11am on December 22 last.
They had been on their way to finish last-minute Christmas shopping in Fermoy, and were about one kilometre from their home, when the Ford Focus in which they were travelling was in collision with another car which emerged from a side road at Ballyderown.
Their car was pushed through a gap in a stone wall, and plunged into a flooded field alongside the river Blackwater, landing on its roof. The mother and daughter were trapped inside.
The field and its dyke were flooded to a depth of up to four feet after several days of sustained heavy rain.
Even more tragically, Ms Clancy’s husband, Noel, arrived at the scene in his tractor within minutes in a bid to help pull the upturned car from the water, only to discover that it was his wife and daughter who were trapped inside.
Despite heroic efforts by emergency services and paramedics, the two women were pronounced dead at the scene.
Inspector Joe O’Connor told the inquest at Mallow courthouse yesterday that a Garda file on the incident has been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
He said criminal proceedings are being considered and he applied for, and was granted, an adjournment of the inquests pending directions from the office of the DPP.
On the direction of Dr Kennedy, the inquest heard evidence of identification and cause of death only.
Insp O’Connor read into the record extracts from statements by Mr Clancy relating to identification of the victims, and from Sgt James Hallahan and Det Garda Denis Ryan, who were among the first to respond to the incident that morning.
Assistant State pathologist, Dr Margot Bolster, who conducted postmortem examinations on the bodies of the two victims, then outlined the causes of death.
Dr Kennedy told Mr Clancy, who attended the brief hearing, that the proceedings will allow for the issuing of death certificates for the two victims in due course.
Both the coroner and Insp O’Connor then expressed their sincere sympathies to Mr Clancy and his family on what they described as a “terrible tragedy”.
This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner.