A three-month-old baby travelling in his mother’s arms as she drove to the shop died after an airbag deployed following a collision.
Paddy Francis Maughan of St Margaret’s Park, Finglas, Dublin 11, was rushed to Temple Street Children’s University Hospital where he died two days later.
“My life’s been turned upside-down since that day. I had my moments with him, I used to give him baby dinners and feed him while we watched the World Cup,” the child’s father, Peter Maughan, said at an inquest into his son’s death.
Theresa Maughan took her baby, Paddy Francis, into her arms as she drove the car. “My three-month-old wouldn’t settle so I had to take him in my hands while I was driving,” she said in her deposition. Her older son Peter was in his car seat on the back seat as she drove her Nissan Micra on the wrong side of the road along Hampton Wood Avenue, a housing estate off St Margaret’s Rd in Finglas.
Mrs Maughan, who was not present in court, said she has suffered with depression since the death of her baby
Her 2001 Micra collided with a 2010 VW Polo driven by Hampton Wood resident Blanca Doyle at around 2.50pm on August 9, 2014, the day Paddy Francis turned three months old. Mrs Doyle, travelling with her son and her mother, was making a righthand turn from Hampton Wood Green onto Hampton Wood Ave when the two cars collided.
“I saw this car driving slowly towards us, in my lane. I presumed she was going to react, but she was not stopping. I pressed the horn and flashed the lights, I did everything I could to get her attention, to let her know she was on the wrong side of the road,” said Mrs Doyle.
Forensic collision investigator Garda Edward Davin said it was a low-speed, low-impact collision but the force was enough to deploy the airbag in the Micra.
Mrs Maughan was not wearing her seatbelt, meaning she and Paddy Francis were travelling forward at the same speed as the car when the airbag deployed and hit them. The airbag inflated at a speed of 320km/h in 0.3 seconds before deflating, Gda Davin said.
The airbag deployment action was equivalent to an explosion, according to Garda Davin: “If the driver of any vehicle was not wearing a seat belt they would move forward to meet the airbag and the resulting impact would be forceful.”
Gardaí found an anomaly in the signage at the junction, which instructs motorists exiting Hampton Wood Green onto Hampton Wood Ave, to both stop and yield. The management company responsible was informed of the confusing signage following the accident, the inquest heard.
Baby Paddy Francis was rushed to Temple Street but was unconscious on arrival. He had sustained extensive head injuries including brain swelling as a result of the crash along with broken ribs and a broken left arm. Consultant paediatrician Dr Owen Hensey said the neurological team felt no intervention could help the child and together with Paddy Francis’ parents, the decision was made to switch off life support two days later. The cause of death was cranio-cerebral trauma as a result of a road traffic accident, according to pathologist Dr Deirdre Devaney.
The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure taking into account risk factors outlined by coroner Dr Brian Farrell, including the lack of a seat belt and the fact the child was travelling in its mother’s arms.
The jury recommended that the layout, parking, and signage of the junction where the accident took place be addressed as a matter of urgency.
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