An American doctor wept in court as he spoke of his oath to do no harm in a case where he admitted that his dangerous driving caused the death of a woman visiting Cork to see her first grandchild.
Cedric Simpson, 52, an ER surgeon from Portland, Oregon, was given a two-year suspended jail term and banned from driving in Ireland for five years after he pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of 60-year-old Lynn Anderson on June 19, 2016.
Ms Anderson was in Cork for a family reunion with her adult children and to meet her first grandchild, Kian, who had travelled from New Zealand for the occasion. Mrs Anderson was killed in the accident one day after meeting her grandson for the first time.
Dr Simpson has been a doctor for 30 years, the last 15 years of that as a specialist in emergency medicine.
“I would like to apologise. I have not been on this side of trauma before. We take an oath to do no harm. A simple lapse caused this death. It has been difficult,” Dr Simpson said through tears as he made his apology from the witness box at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Garda Paul Cogan said the fatal collision occurred on the skew bridge on the Lower Glanmire Road which is flagged as a hazard with extensive warning signs and road markings. Dr Simpson was driving from Cork City to East Cork where he was doing a course at the Ballymaloe cookery school.
The deceased was a rear seat passenger beside her grandson in another rental car coming in the opposite direction. Dr Simpson’s car went over the central white line causing a collision. He admitted taking his eye off the road momentarily to take a biro from the floor of the car as it was causing him annoyance underfoot.
Tom Creed, defence senior counsel, said that other than that moment of inattention which made it dangerous driving there was no other aggravating factor.
Garda Cogan said Dr Simpson had his leg broken in the crash but he performed CPR on the late Ms Anderson at the side of the road.
The judge noted from the pathology report that a double impact in the collision damaged an artery and this proved fatal. Judge Ó Donnabháin said it was a fatal injury irrespective of the medical care she received at the side of the road.
Mr Creed said that remarkably the three other people in the car with the deceased were not injured.
Victim impact statements were read by Garda Cogan on behalf of the deceased’s three adult children.
Chloe said, “Our baby turning one should have been an exciting milestone spent with all of the family but instead we ended up in a living nightmare. To go from laughing and singing to then watching our mum being given CPR on the side of the road and die in front of us is the most traumatic event I have ever experienced and the images of that afternoon will stay with me forever.
“I feel so angry and helpless that our mum’s life was stolen, but I also know she was such a kind-hearted person and would have no ill-feelings towards Cedric.”
Bill said, “What was supposed to be a happy family holiday instead became a week of talking to doctors and police and arranging our mother’s funeral. I can still remember the feeling of packing up mum’s suitcase and finding the presents and birthday card that she never got the chance to give Kian for his birthday. He only got to spend one day with his grandmother, and now he will grow up never knowing her at all.”
Luke said, “It feels like the last chapter of mum’s life has been stolen. She was so much looking forward to being a grandmother. She was going to be moving from the UK back to New Zealand and had even started looking for houses. It is so wonderful she got to meet her first grandchild but so unfair she only got to spend one day with him and then died beside him.”
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