A motorist has recounted the horror of discovering that the black object that she had just driven over was a 15 year old school boy who was lying on a country road on a dark November morning last year, writes Gordon Deegan.
At the Coroner’s Court in Ennis today, hotel receptionist at the Trump Doonbeg resort, Christine Flynn said after returning to the scene where her car had felt ‘a bump’, she recalled saying ‘Oh God’ to herself when she saw the cupped hands of Kevin Donnellan that confirmed to her it was a body.
She said: “I now realised that it was a body. Prior to this, I didn’t know before if it was a mannequin or a prank as it was Halloween.”
Ms Flynn said that she rolled the boy’s body over and could see it was a young male.
In her deposition, Ms Flynn said that when Kevin’s hoodie was down “I saw his young face. His eyes were open and I saw blood in his nose and mouth”.
Ms Flynn had at this stage phoned 999 at 6.38am on November 1st and told the operator that the boy wasn’t breathing and performed CPR on Kevin for 15 minutes before the paramedics arrived.
The youngest of three children, Kevin of Ballycurrane, Knock, west Clare was later declared dead at the scene near Burrane school at Killimer.
Ms Flynn - who wept in the witness box - said in her deposition that seconds before impact, she saw an object on the road that she thought it was black loose farmer’s sillage wrapping.
She said after driving over the object, “I felt something in the car like a bump as if went over something”.
Ms Flynn drove on to cross roads but decided to return because “I had a feeling that I had to go back and check”. Ms Flynn was driving to work at Trump Doonbeg at the time.
In the case a jury returned a verdict of accidental death and addressing Ms Flynn, Insp Paul Slattery said: “A lesser person wouldn’t have stopped. A lesser person wouldn’t have dialled ‘999’ and a lesser person wouldn’t have rendered CPR. You are a very brave lady.”
Extending her sympathy to the Donnellans, County Coroner, Isobel O’Dea said that had happened “is beyond every parent’s nightmare”
A post mortem carried out by Asst State Pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster found that Kevin had toxic levels of alcohol in his blood.
She found that Kevin had, prior to the the car rolling over him, suffered an acute brain injury and skull fracture as a result of a fall to the ground and that walking while inebriated was a contributory factor to this.
Dr Bolster said that Master Donnellan died as a result of blunt force trauma to the chest and abdomen from a car rolling over him while lying in a comatose state on the road.
She told Kevin’s parents at the inquest that he wasn’t conscious at the time of impact “and he would not have suffered at all”.
A teenage friend of Kevin’s also gave evidence and said that Kevin left his home at 1.30am to meet him that morning and the two drank alcohol in the grounds of Burrane school.
The teenage friend said that Kevin brought a half full one litre bottle of Vodka along with two naggins of Vodka and two hip flasks.
The boys had cycled their bikes to the school. He said: “Kevin didn’t say where he got the drink.”
The friend said that he didn’t think that they finished the one litre bottle. He said: “We drank some of the flasks and one of the naggins. We had a good bit to drink. We were both very drunk.”
At around 2.30am the two left the school for the local ferry port at Killimer which was Kevin’s favourite place.
The friend said: “We were too drunk to cycle. We were very bad. The drink started to kick in around this stage…I know the walk to the ferry took a long time. We were staggering along the way.”
The friend said that after 3am, “I passed out from drink at that stage. I had never drank that much before. I don’t remember anything else until I woke up. I thought Kevin had gone home. I looked for him and there was no sign of him anywhere.”
He said: “I got in sometime after 6.30am. My parents did not know where I was all night.”
In her findings, Dr Bolster said that she understood that Kevin wasn’t a regular drinker but that the effect of drinking on the night would have been significant on him due to his young age. Kevin is survived by mother, Ann-Marie, father, Joseph and brother, Colin and sister, Kirstie.