A six-year-old boy was in the front seat of his grandmother’s car when it reversed with the hand-brake off and knocked over and killed his granny.
At the County Clare Coroner’s Court yesterday, a jury returned a verdict of accidental death concerning a fatal road traffic crash that claimed the life of retired Ennis publican Josephine Lucas.
Coroner Isobel O’Dea said the death was a “freak accident”.
“It was a dreadful accident and goes beyond words what it is like for the Lucas family.”
Ms Lucas, 74, was on a shopping trip with two grandchildren when the accident occurred at 1.30pm on February 23.
Her five-year-old granddaughter was standing near her at the rear of the car when her grandmother was knocked over.
One of those early on the scene was Anthony O’Keeffe.
In his deposition, Mr O’Keeffe said how he saw a person standing at the open boot of a silver Mazda and saw the car strike and roll over a person.
He said the car continued to reverse over the woman, raising up as it went over her body.
“Once the car went over her, it continued reversing at top speed,” said Mr O’Keeffe. “It was going kind of fast.
“I ran towards the car and opened the door. Her grandson was in the passenger seat and leaning over the centre console reaching for the keys. The keys were in the ignition. I was 90% sure the engine was on.”
Mr O’Keeffe said emergency services had been called and a woman was already cradling Ms Lucas on the ground.
Claire Coleman said she saw a car reversing, “but it didn’t look like a normal car reversing”.
“I noticed a little boy in the driver’s side,” said Ms Coleman. “It looked like he was standing up. I couldn’t say for certain if the engine was on.”
Witness Mairead Doohan said she heard a passerby say: “There is a child in that moving car and no adult. I did not see the child. The car reversed across the road slowly as if it was parking”.
Ms Doohan said she put Ms Lucas in the recovery position but could not find a pulse. “She didn’t gasp. She was lifeless,” said Ms Doohan. “I said to an off-duty paramedic, Andrew Long, who arrived at the scene, ‘I think she is gone’.”
Garda Niall Cosgrove noticed the engine of the silver Mazda was “still running and the hand-brake was off”.
“The car’s park brake was released and an attempt was made to start the ignition without putting a foot on the clutch,” said Garda Bernard Condon. “The result of this was the car moved backwards quickly, the engine started and it moved backwards.”
Ms Lucas died as a result of acute cardio-respiratory failure secondary to multiple traumatic chest injuries consistent with a road traffic accident, the autopsy report found. Ms O’Dea advised the jury accidental death was the most appropriate verdict.
On behalf of the family, solicitor William Cahir thanked all first responders and others who came to the aid of Mrs Lucas.
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