herald

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Elderly patient died after crash in ambulance

AN elderly patient died after a collision between a HSE ambulance and a car in an accident that seemed like "a crash test from Top Gear", an inquest has heard.

Michael McAuley (77) was being taken to hospital after complaining of breathlessness when the ambulance and a Toyota Prius collided on the busy N11 dual carriageway at the Cabinteely bypass on July 29 last.

Coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty was told the ambulance had moved out on to the dual carriageway junction with its lights and sirens on when it was struck by the Prius.

Witness Terence Monaghan, who was in a car stopped at the lights at Cabinteely village, said the ambulance had moved out into the junction and was stopped for 10 to 15 seconds when he saw a car coming and hitting the ambulance.

"It was like a crash test on Top Gear. It seemed staged," Mr Monaghan said.

Loretta McAuley, of Cabinteely, was with her husband in the back of the ambulance when there was a bang and the ambulance shuddered, she said.

Afterwards her husband was still alive but about 10 minutes after the accident, she noticed he was slumped down. Mr McAuley died shortly afterwards in St Colmcille's Hospital, Loughlinstown.

The driver of the Prius, Aileen Cusack, said the lights were green and she braked hard but was unable to stop.

Garda Anthony Kelly, a forensic collision investigator, said he was satisfied that ambulance driver Joseph Smith had entered the junction cautiously.

Dr Niamh Nolan, who performed a post-mortem, said Mr McAuley had prostate cancer and blood clots had travelled from his leg to both lungs and would have been the cause of death.

He did not have any injuries from the accident that contributed to his death.

The jury returned a verdict of natural causes, aggravated by a road traffic accident.

mlavery@herald.ie

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