Tragic death prompts dark clothing warning on roads

A CORONER warned people yesterday about the dangers of wearing dark clothing while walking in the dark on country roads.

Cork coroner Myra Cullinane issued the warning after an inquest into the death of Norbert Kotloneck, a 24-year-old Polish national, heard that the motorist who hit him didn’t see him as he walked to work wearing dark clothes on a dark and wet winter morning last year.

Mr Kotloneck, from Radom in Poland, had been living since last July in Ballygarvan, Co Cork.

He died from his injuries after he was hit by a car at around 7am on November 5 last while walking to work at a car-hire firm based at Cork Airport.

The inquest heard that it was pitch dark with driving rain at the time and that there are no street lights or footpaths in the area.

Mr Kotloneck usually had a lift to work but had agreed to swap shifts and, as a result, had to walk to work from his home in Gleann Alainn in Ballygarvan, about 3km away.

He was hit from behind on a straight stretch of road just a few hundreds yards from the airport.

The driver, Finbarr Raymond, 25, from Bandon, told the inquest he didn’t see Mr Kotloneck and didn’t realise he had hit a pedestrian until he stepped out of his car after the impact.

Mr Raymond was driving to work at TNT at Cork Airport that morning.

As he approached the airport, a lorry driver travelling in the opposite direction flashed its lights at him.

The driver of the truck, Paul Colgan, said he had seen Mr Kotloneck walking towards him on the right-hand side of the road and realised he was at risk of being struck by a car.

Hackney driver Martin Kingston had passed Mr Kotloneck just a few moments before the accident.

“I was of the opinion that this man was in danger given the dark clothing and the weather conditions,” he said.

But Mr Raymond said he didn’t realise why the lorry flashed the lights. He slowed to about 50kmph and within seconds heard a collision.

“The windscreen came in. I didn’t know what I had hit,” he said.

He pulled his car in immediately and went back to find Mr Kotloneck lying on the road.

“I took his clothing down from his mouth and put my jacket over his stomach to keep him warm,” Mr Raymond said.

Mr Kotloneck was rushed to Cork University Hospital but died two days later from severe head and neck injuries.

Gardaí carried out a full investigation but the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that no criminal proceedings should be brought.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

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