Son died after drunk father crashed

THE driver of a people carrier that crashed, resulting in the death of his four-year-old son, had earlier consumed eight pints and several shots of whiskey in Ballybunion, an inquest heard in Tralee.

John McDonagh, of Lady’s Walk, Ballyduff, Co Kerry, failed to negotiate a bend on the road between Ballybunion and Ballyduff, on the afternoon of July 30, 2006, and collided with a telegraph pole, a Garda witness told the inquest.

Also in the vehicle were his wife, Winifred, since deceased, and their two children, one of whom, Bernard, died in the accident.

Sgt Michael McCarthy, of Ballybunion, who was called to the scene, said McDonagh freely admitted having drink consumed.

The accident occurred on what was described as a notorious stretch of road, at Rathroe, governed by an 80km/h speed limit and a continuous white line.

Garda PSV inspector James O’Brien said McDonagh failed to negotiate a right-hand bend, his vehicle veered along a left-hand ditch and hit a telegraph pole before coming to a halt in a drain.

Garda O’Brien said safety belts in the front seats were not in use at the time of impact, but the children in the middle of the vehicle were wearing seat belts.

The vehicle had been in good mechanical order prior to the accident

Bernard McDonagh was removed by ambulance to Kerry General Hospital, Tralee, where he underwent cardiac massage and resuscitation, but he did not survive.

Assistant state pathologist, Dr Margaret Bolster, who carried out a postmortem examination, said the boy had multiple external injuries and lacerations to the right temple.

A jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence that death was due to brain swelling and haemorrhage associated with a fracture of the spine.

At the Circuit Criminal Court in Tralee, last March, John McDonagh, 36, of Lady’s Walk, Ballyduff, and also with a Dublin address, was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment and disqualified from driving for 30 years after he pleaded guilty to four charges in relation to the accident in which his son died.

The charges included dangerous driving causing death, failing to provide a blood or urine sample and driving without insurance and a licence.


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