Couple devastated by freak accident issue road safety appeal

Maggie Bonner and Michael Jackson holding a picture of Maggie’s late father Frankie Bonner.

Maggie Bonner and Michael Jackson holding a picture of Maggie’s late father Frankie Bonner.

A grieving daughter has issued a road safety appeal ahead of the May Bank Holiday weekend after a freak accident which saw her boyfriend accidentally drive over the body of her father, who had died on the road while walking home at night.

Maggie Bonner and her boyfriend Michael Jackson, from Ballycastle, are supporting the campaign by Mayo’s road safety officer, Noel Gibbons, to urge people who are out socialising over the holiday weekend to give serious thought to how they intend to get home safely, and to always wear a hi viz jacket.

Ms Bonner and Mr Jackson said the tragic circumstances of the death of 65-year-old Francis ‘Frankie’ Bonner from, Ballycastle, on June 10, 2014 tore their lives apart.

At 3am on that morning, Mr Jackson accidentally drove over the body of his girlfriend’s father as he drove towards Killala.

It later emerged that Mr Jackson’s van was the second vehicle to have passed Mr Bonner on the road that morning without knowing he was there.

Mr Bonner was a retired fisherman and native of Donegal.

On the night Mr Bonner died, Mr Jackson was driving a van to Killala when he noticing something on the road.

He tried to avoid it but felt a slight bump. When he stopped his van in Killala, he noticed the bumper was broken on the driver’s side.

He returned towards Ballycastle and made the terrible discovery that he had driven over the body of a man. He immediately called the emergency services and later learned the shocking news that the man was Frankie, the father of his girlfriend.

Noel Gibbons, road safety officer, said he is now joining Mr Jackson and Ms Bonner in appealing to all pedestrians to wear hi viz jackets on the roads to increase their chances of being seen by motorists, and to organise a lift or taxi home on a night out so that other families don’t have to experience their terrible pain.

Both Michael Jackson and Maggie Bonner have also urged people to give their journeys home after a night out more thought.

Mr Gibbons said research by the RSA has shown that two-thirds of pedestrians killed on Irish roads had been drinking prior to their death, and 50 per cent of them were three times over the legal drinking limit.

“The aim of the campaign is to get those who walk home after drinking to realise the danger they are putting themselves in.

“In particular, we want people to sort their lift home before heading out to go drinking,” said Mr Gibbons.

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