Dad tells of being forced to leave dead son on roadside

By Liam Heylin

The father of a teenage cyclist who was struck by a drink driver has described having to leave his son’s body at the side of the road to get home to break the news to his daughters before they found out on social media.

Stefan Cooper, 18, died after he was struck by a car driven by Seán Collins at Barley Hill, Roscarberry, Co Cork, in March 2016.

Collins, who had a previous drink drive conviction from 2006, pleaded guilty to driving a car with excess alcohol — 140 mgs of alcohol per 100 mls of blood at a time when the limit was 50 mgs.

The 70 year-old, of The Bungalow, Threegneeves, Leap, Co Cork, also pleaded guilty to charges of driving without due care and attention causing Stefan’s death.

Yesterday, he was given a one year suspended jail term, a €500 fine, and was banned from driving for five years.

Stefan Cooper.

In a victim impact statement read to Cork Circuit Criminal Court, Stefan Cooper’s father Christy told how he had to identify his son’s body on the side of the road. He then became concerned that his daughters might find out about the tragedy over social media.

“I had to make the most difficult decision of my life, whether to stay with Stefan and risk my girls finding out about his death from someone else or to get home to them before this happened,” he said. “Eventually I had to leave my son on the side of a wet road in the company of strangers to protect my daughters.”

Stefan’s sister Michaela described the impact of her brother’s death. “I honestly never realised how cosy our house was — full of joy and comfort — until he died. Now it just feels empty, lonely, and big.

“His [Collins’] life will never be the name again, nor his family’s, but because of him, my brother does not have a life to live and that, at the end of the day, is unimaginably painfully unforgivable.”

His other sister Emelia said: “Losing my brother at 15 messed up my life beyond repair. I’ve lost the only brother I had. It is unforgivable that he is gone. He is gone because someone couldn’t follow the rules and it is beyond unforgivable that he has ruined our family.”

This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.

Most Read in Ireland