Family of woman who died in Gap of Dunloe accident to sue Kerry County Council

The family of a woman who died when her pony and trap smashed onto rocks at the Gap of Dunloe is to sue Kerry County Council.

Family of woman who died in Gap of Dunloe accident to sue Kerry County Council

The family of a woman who died when her pony and trap smashed onto rocks at the Gap of Dunloe is to sue Kerry County Council.

If successful, the case could cost up to €700,000.

Rosalyn Joy Few and partner, Normand Larose, died in the accident about two miles from Kate Kearney’s Cottage on Apr 9, 2018.

Solicitors acting for Ms Few’s daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren first lodged a claim against the council with the Personal Injuries Assessment Board last Aug.

But the Irish Examiner has learned that the PIAB process, which has to be gone through first in most compensation cases, failed to resolve the matter.

Killarney-based solicitors firm, Malone Hegarty, has now been authorised to take the matter to the High Court.

This will happen when normal service resumes after the Covid-19 crisis, which has led to restricted court services.

Adrian Hegarty, who acts for Ms Few’s family and the deceased couple’s estate, said: “I will be issuing proceedings as soon as the courts re-open fully.

"There are two aspects of the claims — nervous shock and fatal injuries, loss of dependency.

"There is a claim being brought by the estate for Joy Few, and a claim in respect of the estate of Norman Larose.”

The personal shock aspect of the case is based on the couple’s surviving family having suffered a recognisable psychological injury as a result of seeing their “mother/grandmother/mother-in-law” killed on the side of a road.

The deceased couple was holidaying with Ms Few’s daughter, Tonya Tier, son-in-law Bill Walthers and grandchildren Caitlin (15) and Gavin (8) at the time.

Ms Few (64), of Phoenix, Arizona, and Mr Larose (62) were flung off the narrow road with the pony and they tumbled through the air as the cart careered 20 feet down the ravine and crashed into rocks.

Ms Tier and her husband were traveling in another trap behind while the couple’s children were traveling in a trap of their own.

They arrived at the scene shortly afterward.

They were there as rescuers, including Mr Walthers, frantically tried to lift the cart off the stricken couple.

The amount of money that could be paid out is calculated in two parts.

There is a statutory compensation amount, which is fixed at around €35,000 and added to that is compensation calculated on the basis of “loss of dependency”.

But although what is usually paid out in relation to the nervous shock claim is around €40,000 to €50,000 for each claimant, payouts can go as high as €100,000.

Legal costs on each side, if the case were to go all the way through the court system, could amount to more than €200,000.

The inquest heard that when pony men, aided by Mr Walthers, got to the couple, Ms Few was already dead and Mr Larose was ‘breathing heavily’.

By the time the cart was lifted away from the Canadian, his heart had stopped and paramedics administered CPR for about 40 minutes in an attempt to revive him.

Garda collision expert, Sergeant Jim O’Brien, told the inquest he feels that carts at the Gap should have brakes installed.

He said the issue of brakes and any other safety measures regarding carts should be ones that should originate from the pony men themselves.

Asked if he thought warning signs should be erected, he told the court: “A barrier would be more effective. And brakes on pony traps would be effective.”

A Kerry County Council spokesperson said: "It is the policy of Kerry County Council not to comment on existing or ongoing legal proceedings."

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