Victim wants action on jury's crash recommendation 

Victim wants action on jury's crash recommendation 

Maeve Kelly leaving Gort Court house after Gerard Roan's inquest in December 2019. Picture: Neil Michael

A woman deliberately driven into by a driver with a mental illness has called for action on a recommendation made later at the driver’s inquest.

Gerard Roan drove into Maeve Kelly and her daughter just weeks after the HSE was warned he would kill or be killed, the inquest heard in December 2019.

The 40-year-old had a long history of “severe and enduring mental illness” in the years up to the moment he “turned his lights off” and swerved suddenly into Ms Kelly’s car about 11.15pm on March 20, 2016.

Ms Kelly and her daughter both sustained serious injuries and were rushed to the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, and remain badly scarred.

Mr Roan, formerly of Corlacken, Creggs, Roscommon, was rushed to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe, where he was later pronounced dead.

Open verdict

The jury recorded an open verdict and said Mr Roan died as a result of a road traffic accident.

But they said: “We recommend there be a serious review of the criteria in the medical supervision of mentally ill patients.”

Ms Kelly said: “A man lost his life and both myself and my daughter were left scarred for life.

“What part of that tragedy and the subsequent inquest jury recommendation does the Government and its various agencies not understand?

“Legislation needs to be tightened and there need to be more controls in place with regard to people known to have mental health issues and access to cars."

The 49-year-old told the 2019 inquest she and her teenage daughter saw Mr Goan’s car “come straight for us” and that he was “following” them as they tried to avoid him.

They say he was driving behind another car coming round a bend when he overtook that car, veered out in their direction, and drove straight at them.

Ms Kelly, of Ashbrook, Knockcroghrey, Roscommon, said that seconds before impact, he “turned his lights off”.

They survived after Ms Kelly took swift evasive action in the incident on the N61 Roscommon to Athlone road.

Social Democrats transport spokesperson Catherine Murphy is to raise the jury’s recommendation when the Dáil resumes.

“This is complex and I suspect this is why the jury made the recommendation,” Ms Murphy said. “If the Department of Transport has not acted on the recommendation, then that needs to happen now.”

The Mental Health Commission said it “has not carried out an investigation as it has not been asked or directed to do so”.

It said that, in any case, its remit to carry out any investigation is “limited”.

Review

The Department of Health declined to say whether its staff have carried out any review and instead referred the Irish Examiner to the Department of Transport.

The Department of Transport did not answer as to whether it had carried out a review.

It only said drivers must inform their driver licensing authority of any medical conditions or injuries that may affect their ability to drive safely.

The department said any further questions should be put to the Road Safety Authority. The RSA, however, said it has no record of receiving any details about the recommendation.

It insisted its medical fitness to drive guidelines Sláinte & Tiomáint are updated according to changes to EU law and follow international best practice.

The HSE was also asked if it had carried out a review.

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