Driver caused fatal crash when distracted by crying child
A €2,000 fine has been handed down to a 28-year-old driver who, distracted by a her child crying in the back seat of her car, drifted to the wrong side of the road and collided with another car, causing the death of a well-known former businessman,
Rosario Doyle, of 45 St. David's Well, Bridgetown, pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of George Bridges at Curteenminogue Lr., Murrintown, on December 14, 2014, when she appeared before Judge Barry Hickson at Wexfod Circuit Criminal Court.
Garda Eoin Murphy told prosecuting counsel, Sinead Gleeson, that he went the scene of the collision at Curteenminogue, a section of road connecting Murrintown with Baldwinstown.
Garda Murphy said three vehicles were involved: a Volvo in which the accused was travelling; a Toyota Yaris in which the deceased was a passenger, driven by his wife, Patricia; and a Rover. Gardai spoke to the three drivers and there was no evidence of alcohol consumption.
Both the Volvo and Toyota Yaris were damaged at the front, while the Rover had rear-ended the vehicle in which the deceased was a passenger. On that evening, conditions for driving were favourable. The accident occurred at 5.15p.m. and it was dark at the time. A full examination of the scene was carried out by Garda Tom Bolger. Garda Murphy said Garda Bolger found that the Volvo was in an unroadworthy conditions due to the condition of the tyres. Garda Bolger determined that the accident was caused by the Volvo travelling over to the wrong side of the road while negotiating a bend. The primary cause, he said, was the failure of the Volvo driver to maintain control of the vehicle and keep it on its correct side of the road.
Garda Murphy said that Ms Doyle was arrested and interviewed. He also said that at the scene, Mr. Bridges was conscious, but was later pronounced dead at Wexford General Hospital
The report of Pathologist, Dr. Fergus McSweeney stated that 93-year-old George Bridges suffered a cardiac arrest after being transferred to the ambulance. It was perceived that Mr. Bridges had a heart difficulty. The conclusion was that he died as a result of the accident, but did have a haemorrhage and crush injuries to the chest.
Garda Murphy told Defence Counsel John Peart that Rosario Doyle co-operated fully with the investigation. She had no previous convictions.
In a Victim Impact Statement, Patricia Bridges, who was also injured but made a full recovery, spoke of this being a very traumatic time for her.
'My life changed forever on December 14, 2014, with the loss of my husband and best friend, George, such a kind, loving husband. We had been out for our Sunday drive but the sound of that impact will never leave my mind.'
Mr Bridges was a well-known and respected figure in Wexford town, having run a successful toy shop business in Selskar for many years.
Mr. Peart said that Ms Doyle had made contact with Mrs. Bridges and offered her apologies but she (Mrs. Bridges) was disappointed it was not sooner. She accepted the apology, and said she bore no ill will towards Ms Doyle who had also suffered.
Mr. Peart told the court that on being interviewed, Ms Doyle was distraught and could not stop crying. She suffered very serious remorse for what had happened.
Ms Doyle also told the Probation Officer what she thinks happened. She said her little child started to cry and when she looked around to see what was wrong, the accident happened in that split second.
The defendant, said Mr. Peart, lives with her partner and two children. They had only bought the car from a garage a day or two earlier and they believed it to be roadworthy.
Mr. Peart said in the report before the court Garda Bolger said there was no evidence this accident was caused by the tyres on the vehicle. He said the cause of the accident was the failure to keep the car on the right side of the road.
Gwen Doyle, stepmother of Ms Doyle for twenty year, spoke of her being a lovely girl growing up. She had two children and worked fulltime in a solicitor's office.
She spoke of the dreadful impact the accident has had on the defendant who found it necessary to attend a doctor and has been reduced to bouts of crying. She is a wonderful mother to her two children and is devastated and remorseful for what had happened, the witness said.
Solicitor Catherine Stack told the court Ms Doyle was a valuable and courteous member of staff. She worked front of house and was regarded as a responsible employee. She said she thought this would remain with her for the rest of her life.
For the defence, Mr Peart said the accident happened owing to a moment of inattention and child crying in the back of the car. The defendant, he said, suffered serious remorse and guilt over what had happened. She is highly respected in her community.
He said that the delay in sending the letter of apology to Mrs. Bridges was because the defendant was advised by her solicitor to make no contact until the case was concluded for fear of interfering with the course of justice, but still Mrs. Bridges bore Ms Doyle no ill will.
He asked the court not to disqualify the defendant from driving, because of special circumstances.
Replying to Judge Hickson, who said there is a mandatory disqualification unless a special case is created, Mr. Peart said her partner worked in Wexford town, starting at 6 a.m., while the defendant required her car for work and bring her two children to school. She lived more than twenty-five minutes from town.
Having expressed the court's condolences to Mrs. Bridges and family, Judge Hickson said her Victim Impact Statement was nothing short of being wonderfully impressive and compassionate, borne out of Christian charity.
He said when the accused set out to drive home, no doubt the last thing on her mind was that she was going to be involved in an accident. This had to be a traumatic period for any citizen, and a time of intense pressure for the defendent. Her guilty plea had saved the Bridges family from more hardship and he is quite satisfied Ms Doyle is regretful and sorrowful.
Judge Hickson said he is satisfied from the reports that the condition of the car was not a factor in this case.
He said given the family circumstances, he would not impose a disqualification, but would impose a fine of €2,000 on Rosario Doyle.
Following discussion with the family, Mr. Peart said the fine would be paid within ten days.