Friday 28 October 2016

Tragic mum 'thrown nine feet into the air' in hit-and-run horror

The funeral of Caroline Watkins at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Ballyfermot last June
The funeral of Caroline Watkins at Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Ballyfermot last June

A woman struck in a hit-and-run accident was flung nine feet into the air as her shocked partner looked on helplessly, an inquest has heard.

Mum-of-one Caroline Watkins (40), of Lally Road, Ballyfermot, was fatally hit while crossing the road at the Goldenbridge Luas Stop in Davitt Road, Drimnagh, last May 30.

Dublin Coroner's Court heard the car was travelling over the speed limit, no emergency brakes were applied and it continued on without slowing down following the impact.


Gardai found the vehicle involved but were unable to establish who was driving when the incident happened.

Ms Watkins and her partner Ray Harcourt were on their way home from a pub in Inchicore at around 10.30pm and decided to walk to Davitt Road to get a taxi.

When they reached the Goldenbridge Luas stop, they got to the edge of a pedestrian crossing and waited. Mr Harcourt said he was checking if it was safe to cross when Ms Watkins stepped out on to the road.

"The next thing I knew I just heard a dead sound. It wasn't even like a bang. Before I could even turn or say anything, I saw Caroline flying through the air at a height of eight or nine foot at a guess. She was spinning horizontally. She never made a sound," he said.

Ms Watkins landed about 30 feet away.

The court heard she was struck by the bumper of the car, then the bonnet and windscreen before being propelled forward.

When paramedics attended the scene, she had no pulse. She was pronounced dead shortly after arrival at St James' Hospital.

The post-mortem was carried out by State Pathologist Prof Marie Cassidy, who said Ms Watkins died from multiple injuries caused by the collision. Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said they were "not survivable".

The court heard from Nikita McGrane, who was in a different car approaching the pedestrian crossing at the time, that cars had the green light when the incident happened.

Forensic collision investigator Gda Edward Davin said CCTV footage indicates the car that hit Ms Watkins was travelling at 58kph on approach to the pedestrian crossing.

The speed limit in the area is 50kph.

He said there is nothing on the CCTV footage to show that the driver "slowed down appreciably". There was no braking effort, he added, and the footage does not show the driver stopping.

Gardai recovered the vehicle and, using DNA, confirmed it was the same car that struck Ms Watkins.


Dr Farrell said it is his understanding that the registered owner of the car had sold it on and, when interviewed, the buyer said he was not driving the car.

Det Insp Liam Kelly said a person believed to be the driver was arrested and a file was sent to the DPP who returned directions of no prosecution in the matter.

The investigation remains open.

The jury returned a narrative verdict that Ms Watkins died in a "hit-and-run road traffic collision".


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