Family believes student, 23, who died in crash possibly blinded by sun

A student who died in a car crash might have been temporarily blinded by morning sunshine, say his family.

Twenty-three-year-old Sean Madden’s car struck a pole on a slipway onto the M50. Mr Madden, from Old Court Road, Bray, Co Wicklow, sustained multiple injuries in the crash, which happened shortly before 9am on July 30, 2014, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

An inquest into Mr Madden’s death heard he had been out with friends, in a club on Harcourt Street, in Dublin, the night before. He had a blood alcohol level of 121 mg per cent and coroner, Dr Myra Culllinane, said that the alcohol was leaving his system at the time of the crash.

The public relations student had dropped friends home earlier that morning, and was driving back to Bray when he lost control of his VW Polo, merging from the N11 onto the M50.

His friend, Olwyn Mahon, was the last to see him alive. He had dropped her at work shortly before the incident.

The pair were among friends socialising the night before. The group returned to Mr Madden’s house, in Bray, around 2am. The following morning, he dropped his friends back to Dublin city centre, departing Bray at 7.10am.

“Sean seemed fine to me. He was in really good form. His driving was fine,” Miss Mahon said.

There had been a drinks promotion at Dicey’s bar, where the friends were socialising the previous night, with pints and bottles selling for €2.50, the court heard.

Mr Madden dropped Ms Mahon in Dalkey at 8.35am and continued towards Bray. Motorist Emmet Savage witnessed the crash. “I saw the vehicle swerving in the lane ahead and then enter the grass verge. It hit the pole. It rolled and landed on its side,” Mr Savage said. He estimated the speed at between 80km/h and 100km/h. The speed limit is 100km/h.

PSV inspector, Garda Alan Quinn found the car was roadworthy and Mr Madden was wearing his seatbelt. Forensic collision investigator, Sergeant Paul Kearney, said the car sustained a substantial impact with the four-metre pole.

From the public gallery, the student’s mother, Monica Madden, said she believed her son was blinded by the glare of the sun as he travelled down the slipway onto the M50.

“The sun catches you there,” she said.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure and recommended that, where large road signs are located on a verge, consideration be given to the erection of a buffer between the sign and the road surface.


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