herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Baby killed in crash as mum was distracted

A BABY died in a car crash moments after his mother was distracted when she picked up her son's baby bottle from the floor of the car.

NICOLE O'Brien, (19) was driving her son, her partner and his niece at the time, an inquest into her son's death heard.

Ms O'Brien's son, Thomas Anthony, aged 13 months, was found by gardai lying on the road unconscious.

Unsuccessful attempts were made to resuscitate him by a passing female motorist, the court heard.

Jolene Ryan (6), Ms O'Brien's partner's niece, was found conscious by gardai, lying on the road covered by a coat. She sustained two broken hips and dental damage in the collision.

The accident occurred at Knockaunvodig, Bruree, Co Limerick, shortly before 4pm on February 4, 2011, Limerick Coroner's Court was told.

Ms O'Brien's son was pronounced dead at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick, after been rushed there by ambulance.

Thomas Anthony was her only child.



Collision

A garda file on the collision stated Ms O'Brien had veered on to the wrong side of the road and into the path of an oncoming van before impact.

But gardai said there was "no evidence of dangerous or careless driving up to the point of distraction".

Garda Mike Reddy, a garda collision investigator said in his report: "The tragic accident resulting in the death of her only child has had a devastating effect on her.

"It would serve no purpose in my opinion if she were prosecuted for the death of her child. It is something she will carry for the rest of her life."

Ms O'Brien, from Brindle Hill, Charleville, Co Cork, sustained a broken wrist, a fractured hip, and torn ligaments in one of her legs, the court heard.

Her partner Michael Ryan was not injured.

In statements to gardai, Ms O'Brien said Jolene Ryan had told her that Thomas Anthony's bottle had fallen between Ms O'Brien's seat and the seat directly behind her.

Ms O'Brien told gardai, she picked the bottle up and gave it to Jolene.

She then told gardai it was another five minutes or so before the fatal impact occurred.

A jury at the coroner's court returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

hnews@herald.ie

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