Jury calls for warning signs at dangerous bend after fatal head-on collision

WARNING signs should be erected at a dangerous bend where a man died in a head-on collision, a jury recommended yesterday.

Cork city coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said she would write to Cork County Council about the need for signs on a wide-sweeping bend on Carr’s Hill, the main primary road between Douglas and Carrigaline in Cork. A jury of five women and two men made the recommendation after hearing evidence in relation to the death of Arthur O’Connor, 59, from Raffeen Hill, Monkstown, Co Cork.

Mr O’Connor died on Wednesday, January 4, 2006, when the blue Mazda 626 he was driving veered across a continuous white line and collided head-on with a 40ft articulated truck on the bend close to the cemetery on Carr’s Hill. The front of the car was destroyed in the impact, its bodywork was warped and it came to rest almost 95ft from the point of impact, the inquest was told.

An airbag, the seat belt which Mr O’Connor was wearing, and the car’s crumple zones would have done little to protect him given the severity of the impact, the court heard.

Mr O’Connor had left Cork Builders Providers at about 4.20pm, after arranging to collect building materials the following day, to drive home to Monkstown, via Carr’s Hill.

Witness David O’Riordan, who was driving in the opposite direction behind the articulated truck, said he saw Mr O’Connor’s car cross a continuous white line on the bend and slam into the cab of the truck at about 4.30pm.

“It looked to me he just didn’t take the bend correctly,” he said. “The truck took no evasive action. There was no time. It happened in a split-second.”

Husband and wife, David and Patricia Keeley, were travelling in the car behind Mr O’Riordan. They gave similar evidence. All three ran to help Mr O’Connor and phoned for the emergency services.

Neil Ahern, travelling behind Mr O’Connor, said it appeared as if the car took almost a straight line through the bend.

A statement from truck driver, Sean Courtney, 21, from Killarney, Co Kerry, was read in his absence.

Working for his father’s company, Dingle Transport, he had collected a load of fish from Ringaskiddy and was driving towards Douglas.

Mr Courtney said he saw Mr O’Connor’s car come over onto his side of the road and hit his cab.

It felt like the car went underneath the cab, which was pushed up into the air. He pulled his steering wheel to the left and veered into a field after the impact.

His tachograph showed the truck was travelling at 60km/h at the time of the impact.

Mr O’Connor died shortly after admission to Cork University Hospital. Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said his death was due to severe head injuries and multiple fractures.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death but recommended that the county council install warning signs at the bend.

Jurors offered their sympathies to Mr O’Connor’s wife, Mary, and his son, Arthur, who were in court.

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