A JURY returned a verdict of accidental death at an inquest into a fatal crash near Rosscarbery last year.
Zoe Scannell (8) was killed almost instantly when she suffered massive internal injuries in the two-car collision at Burgatia, near Rosscarbery, on the N71 on June 26th 2014.
Zoe was sitting on her mother’s lap and her mum, Alisha, had placed a seat belt around both of them. However, it failed to protect Zoe in the impact, an inquest in Clonakilty heard.
Forensic crash investigator Garda Ray Sweeney said using a seatbelt for two people or an adult and a child sitting on their lap was ‘far from ideal’ as it did not offer proper protection.
He said the purpose of a seatbelt was to restrain a person being thrown from their seat in a crash with the seatbelt absorbing the force of their mass as they are thrown forward. But with one person sitting on another’s lap, the person in front absorbs all the force of the person behind when they are both thrown forward on impact and restrained by the seatbelt.
The inquest heard how Ms Scannell and Zoe, from Kilconnolly Lower, Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick were holidaying in Owenahincha with friends when the accident happened.
They were rear seat passengers in a Nissan Primera being driven by their friend, Maurice Hickey, whose partner, Siobhan Murphy was in the front seat.
The inquest heard that they were driving up a bend at Burgatia towards Rosscarbery when a silver Audi A3 came around the bend and veered onto its incorrect side of the road.
Mr Hickey said the Audi 3 seemed to turn sideways and went into the front of his car, causing extensive damage to the vehicle and causing injury to himself and his five passengers.
Zoe was taken to Cork University Hospital where she was pronounced dead, but a post-mortem revealed she had suffered massive internal injuries and had died at the scene.
Ms Scannell was airlifted by helicopter to hospital where she spent 11 days after suffering perforations to her bowel, lacerations to her spleen and kidney and fractured ribs.
The inquest heard the silver Audi 3 had been driven by unaccompanied learner driver 17-year-old Ian Lawlor O’Donovan, who had only started driving three months earlier.
Mr Lawlor O’Donovan’s car had slid down a 4m ravine beside the roadway and he had to be helped back up to the roadway by paramedics, the inquest heard.
The jury returned a verdict of accidental death and that Zoe died from massive internal injuries due to blunt force trauma consistent with a road crash involving two vehicles.
West Cork coroner Frank O’Connell extended his sympathies to Ms Scannell on the loss of her beautiful little daughter while Insp Jerry Lacey sympathised on behalf of the gardai.