'You’re just praying it’s not somebody': Luas driver didn't see woman on track before fatal collision

'You’re just praying it’s not somebody': Luas driver didn't see woman on track before fatal collision
File photo

A 48-year-old woman died following a collision with a Luas tram travelling on the Red Line in Dublin. Catriona Cahill from St Anthony’s Road in Dublin sustained catastrophic injuries after she was struck by the inbound tram in a poorly lit area between the Fatima and St James’s stops on July 8, 2017.

The driver of the tram said the lighting was bad in the area and he did not see the woman until it was too late.

Driver Maurice Cronin told an inquest into the woman’s death that a large, boisterous crowd got on the train at the Fatima stop. He heard a roar and looked in the rear view mirror as the train left the Fatima stop.

“I looked out the front window and just for a split second I saw something on the track,” he said.

“There was nothing I could do. I hoped it wasn’t someone. You’re just praying it’s not somebody,” Mr Cronin said.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard the incident took place shortly after midnight and involved the last inbound tram service on the Red Line.

Forensic Collision Investigator Garda Damien Farrell said the woman was lying on the track and was not moving when she was struck, 80m west of the Fatima stop.

He noted evidence of the application of emergency brakes and found the body catcher mechanism on the front of the tram had not moved the woman out of harm’s way.

The area, at the rear of St James’s Hospital is ‘particularly dark at night,’ according to Garda Farrell.

“The track goes through a green area lined with mature trees. During the hours of darkness, this area is extremely dark,” he said.

Barrister for the family Esther Earley asked if the tram was operating with full beams at the time of the collision and Garda Farrell replied that it was not.

The train was travelling at 13kmh at the point of impact following a rapid deceleration from 20kmph, the court heard.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane adjourned the inquest in order to hear evidence from witnesses from Transdev, operator of the Luas and from Transport Infrastructure Ireland, the authority responsible for public lighting along the Luas tracks.

The inquest is scheduled to conclude on July 9 next.

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