Woman drove off and smashed into lorry, inquest told

A 22-year-old Sligo woman took off with a barman’s car before smashing into the back of a mobile concrete pump lorry at the Promenade in Salthill a crash which resulted in her death and a parking ban on certain heavy goods vehicles.

The Galway West Coroner’s Court heard last week that Aileen Feeney from Ballymeeney, Dromore West, Co Sligo, died from severe cranial trauma as a result of a blunt force injury sustained in a traffic accident which occurred in the early hours of February 22, 2008.

In a deposition read out to the inquest, Max Davis said that Ms Feeney had been drinking at Blake’s Tavern, Galway Shopping Centre, where he worked as a barman. She had three double vodkas and Red Bull and seemed in good form. At closing time Ms Feeney asked for lift to Doughiska where she had lived at 92 Fearann Ri. Mr Davis told her he would be stopping at Salthill for a walk first. When He stopped at Texeco filling station and got out a few minutes later his Nissan Almera was started and it drove off.

Chief fire officer with Galway Fire Brigade, Larry Carter, told gardai that after receiving the call at 2.54am he found one female trapped inside the car and the roof of the vehicle had to be removed. He added that the weather had been “horrific” with gusty winds and sleet. Ms Feeney was rushed to the intensive care unit at UHG with a head trauma but was pronounced dead on February 23, 2008.

Sgt Shane Birmingham gave evidence that CCTV footage at the filling station showed Ms Feeney move from the passenger side of the car into the driver’s seat at 2.41am and drive off. Sgt Birmingham said that it was later found that parking of large heavy goods vehicles at the Promenade was not appropriate especially in serious weather. After consultation with the Galway City Council it was agreed that there would be a 3.5 tonne limit imposed. He added that the lorry involved in this incident had been parked correctly and legally.

The post-mortem report showed that Ms Feeney received multiple injuries including significant trauma to the face, head, and left eye. Cause of death was multiple skull fracture causing trauma to the brain as a result of a road traffic accident.

Coroner Dr Ciaran McLoughlin said that it was wise for Galway City Council to restrict the parking of certain heavy goods vehicles along this stretch of road. He added that all local authorities should consider designating where these vehicles could park particularly at night.

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