Inquest finds man died after wife was 'panicked' by beeping cars at traffic lights and crashed into wall

By Louise Roseingrave

A 68-year-old, rear seat passenger suffered a broken neck and later died after the car he was travelling in struck a wall.

Joseph Doyle from Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin was going for lunch with his wife on April 23, 2017, when their car ploughed into a wall. The man’s wife Margaret Doyle panicked after she tried to adjust the driver’s seat while stopped at traffic lights.

When the lights turned green cars behind her began beeping, causing her to panic, an inquest heard. The car had been adjusted for a disabled driver with controls for acceleration and brakes at the steering wheel.

“I thought I had time to move the seat at the lights,” Mrs Doyle said in her deposition.

She had tried to organise a taxi company to make the journey to Blackrock for Sunday lunch but the company was fully booked, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

“In a panic, I ended up driving into a wall,” she said.

Mr Doyle was a back seat passenger but he was not wearing his seat belt, according to Bridie Doyle, who was travelling in the front passenger seat.

“She went to adjust her seat. She took off then, she just panicked. Instead of the brake she pressed the accelerator and we hit the wall,” she said.

Margaret Doyle was an inpatient at St Vincent’s Hospital and had not driven her car, a Nissan Micra, for a while, the court heard.

“It’s believed there were cars behind beeping and this caused the driver to panic and press the accelerator instead of the brake. The car moved forward, mounted the footpath and hit the wall,” Garda Paul Nolan said.

The collision caused Mr Doyle to strike the seat in front of him and he sustained a broken neck.

He was paralysed as a result, unable to move his arms or legs.

Despite treatment from a multi-disciplinary team, his condition deteriorated and his breathing grew compromised. He died in hospital surrounded by his wife and family on June 28, 2017.

The cause of death was pneumonia due to paralysis of all four limbs, due to a cervical spinal cord injury sustained in a road traffic collision two months earlier.

“The injury was apparent from the outset and everything that happened after that related to the neck injury,” Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

The jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

KEYWORDS: inquest

 

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