Ambulance accident looked like ‘Top Gear crash test’

A “PREVENTABLE accident” in which a car struck a stationary ambulance transporting a gravely ill man to hospital was described at an inquest as being like “a crash test” on the TV show Top Gear.

Michael McAuley, 77, of Woodlands Road, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, who was very unwell with breathing difficulties, was travelling in the back of an ambulance to St Vincent’s Hospital when it was hit by a car at on the N11 at Cabinteely. Mr McAuley died shortly after the crash.

The ambulance, which had blue lights flashing and a siren on, was stationary at the time and was waiting to make a turn, an inquest at Dublin County Coroner’s Court heard.

Forensic collision investigator Garda Anthony Kelly said he was of the opinion it was a preventable accident on the part of the driver of the car, Aileen Cusack, who was travelling in the overtaking lane of the N11.

It was a low-speed impact, the inquest heard.

The incident occurred at the junction of the Johnstown Road and the N11 on July 29, 2010. Ms Cusack told the inquest she did not see the ambulance until it was too late.

The dead man’s wife, Loretta McAuley was travelling in the back of the ambulance with her husband and a paramedic when the incident occurred.

“There was a bang. The ambulance shuddered forward. The paramedic was thrown forward and hit her head,” Ms McAuley said.

She said her husband was OK after the incident, but a number of minutes later, when she reached across to pick up her handbag, she noticed he was slumped.

Mr McAuley was rushed to St Columcille’s Hospital, Loughlinstown where he was pronounced dead at 1.30pm.

Terence Monaghan, who witnessed the accident, said “it was like a crash test on Top Gear”.

“It seemed staged.”

A post-mortem found Mr McAuley did not sustain any injuries in the incident which could have contributed to his death.

Pathologist Dr Niamh Nolan said Mr McAuley died from respiratory compromise secondary to blood clots which travelled to his lungs from his leg. Mr McAuley was also found to have prostate cancer.

A jury returned a verdict of natural causes aggravated by a traffic accident under the direction of coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty.

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