Coroner: Limit speed of young drivers’ cars

A CORONER presiding at an inquest into the deaths of two young men in an horrific car crash in Co Kerry yesterday called for a change in the law and the possible introduction of speed limiters for young drivers.

Terence Casey said young men did not seem to see the dangers of speeding or powerful cars, and something would have to be done to stop carnage on the roads.

Mr Casey, coroner for south Kerry and a solicitor, said speed appeared to cause the car to go out of control on a bend near Lawlor’s Cross, on the N22 road between Killarney and Tralee, early on August 13 last.

The Vauxhall Cavalier crashed into a dividing wall between two houses, came back onto the road and went on fire creating what one witness described as a “trail of flame”, with both men still in the car.

Tim Reidy, aged 19, the driver and owner of the car, of Kilcow, Castleisland, Co Kerry, and Peter Galwey, aged 21, of Fahaduff, Castleisland, were pronounced dead at the scene.

First on the scene was Donie O’Sullivan, an oil truck driver with Kerry Petroleum, who said he was travelling at about 80kph when he was overtaken by the Cavalier travelling at not more than 100kph.

He lost sight of the car until he rounded a bend and saw fire on the road. “The way I’d describe it is that the road was on fire,” he told the inquest in Killarney.

Mr O’Sullivan said he got a fire extinguisher from his truck, but the car was completely engulfed in flames. As he returned to the truck for a second extinguisher, he heard a loud explosion.

He was unable to get back to the car because of the heat and burning and he could see the bodies of two men inside the car.

Diarmuid Cronin said as he was going into his house, close to the accident scene at about 12.15am, he could hear a car coming.

Cars generally slowed coming to the bend, but the car did not change speed. He then heard a loud bang and knew it had crashed.

Replying to the coroner, Mr Cronin said it seemed to be a powerful car coming at speed. When he went onto the road, he could see the oil truck driver with the fire extinguisher. The road and the entire back of the car were engulfed in flames.

As someone experienced in rally driving, he told the truck driver to be careful as the car could explode. Other people also came out of their houses, but could not approach the car “because of the heat and trail of flame from where the impact happened to where the car had stopped,” Mr Cronin added.

Dental records were used in the identification of the deceased. Death in both cases was due to internal haemorrhage and severe shock arising from extensive burns, according to the medical evidence.

A jury returned a unanimous verdict of death by misadventure in the case of Mr Reidy and of accidental death in the case of Mr Galwey.

Mr Casey, extending sympathy to the bereaved families, said postmortem examinations showed both died instantaneously and were either unconscious, or dead, after the first impact.

“They definitely didn’t feel any pain,” he said.

Supt Michael Maher, Killarney, said an enjoyable night out ended tragically for the men, neither of whom had alcohol or drugs consumed.

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