‘I don’t know what hit us’, says widow of man killed in accident

The only evidence given by a motorist on trial yesterday for careless driving causing the death of an elderly man was to say to the family of the deceased: “I am sorry for your loss.”

The sole issue in the case was whether the death of the 81-year-old was caused by the careless driving.

Glenn Howard, aged 34, of Leesdale, Model Farm Rd, Cork, pleaded not guilty to the charge of careless driving causing the death of Kilkenny man John Dermody, a front seat passenger in another car on the M8 at Ballybeg, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, on October 13, 2015.

Alice Fawsitt, defending, said on behalf of the accused: “There is no issue about driving, there is no denial that it was careless driving, the issue is whether his careless driving caused the death.”

Siobhán Lankford, prosecuting, said the prosecution was grateful for the concession made by the accused man so that certain matters such as the driving of the car and the driving of it without due care and attention had been conceded.

Ms Lankford said Patricia Dermody was driving that day and her late husband, who was 81, was in the front passenger seat.

He was getting a bit hot so Mrs Dermody pulled in to the side of the road to help him take off his jacket. They were on their way to Nenagh for a few days and decided to head to Mitchelstown first as they were in no particular hurry.

The defendant’s van collided with the back of their car when it stopped.

“The deceased was thrown around in the vehicle and suffered a traumatic brain injury. He was treated in hospital but his condition deteriorated and 22 days later, on November 4, he died,” said Ms Lankford.

Mrs Dermody, in a written statement read to the jury, said the airbags came out in front of them on the impact.

“I looked over at John. He had his eyes closed. Thank God he opened his eyes. John asked me, ‘What happened, Pat?’ I said, ‘We had an accident, John,’ It all happened so fast. When I got out of the car it was faced in the opposite direction. I don’t know what hit us. I only noticed the van when we were sitting in the ambulance.”

Mrs Dermody later added to her statement her husband had been wearing his seatbelt as he always did.

Pathologist Margot Bolster said the deceased had been taking warfarin, an anticoagulant prescribed due to a risk of stroke. She said the medication would make an injured party more vulnerable to bleeding.

Dr Bolster said the deceased had some longstanding medical conditions prior to the accident.

Ms Fawsett stated: “The issue is whether the injuries in the accident contributed in a real way to his death.”

Ms Lankford said: “The prosecution says the defendant has to take the person who is injured as he finds him. The people in the silver Kia were not [aged]21/22. You might feel sorry for the accused, that he crashed into a car where the occupants were not in the best of health but that is the reality.

“You are not being asked was it the full cause but did it contribute to it in more than a minimal way?”

The jury of four women and eight men had Dr Bolster’s conclusions summarised by Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin in his closing address at Cork Circuit Criminal Court yesterday, stating the cause of death was pneumonia associated with heart disease complicated by head injury due to road traffic collision.

The jury resume deliberations today.



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