CLARE’S County Coroner is to write to the State’s national roads agency to highlight concerns over a motorway exit where a Crusheen publican and Glanbia milkman lost his life four years ago.
At the inquest into the June 2018 death of Michael Fogarty (57), the man’s widow, Bridget asked that coroner Isobel O’Dea highlight the concerns raised by Judge Brian O’Callaghan in court over the exit where her husband died.
At the conclusion of the inquest in Kilrush Courthouse, Mrs Fogarty said that very deliberate comments concerning “deficiencies at Exit 13” were made by Judge O’Callaghan at Ennis Circuit Court last December.
The mother of three adult children aged 34, 30 and 26, Mrs Fogarty said that she was raising the matter of Judge O’Callaghan’s comments “in the public interest”.
Ms O’Dea stated that she would write to Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to highlight the judge’s concerns.
Mrs Fogarty agreed with Ms O’Dea when the coroner said “it doesn’t help you but it might help someone else”.
On June 5, 2018, Mr Fogarty lost his life when his van was struck from behind by a 08-registered white Volvo articulated truck being driven by Paul Van Tamlin at the exit from the Galway to Limerick motorway to Tulla at Knockanean outside Ennis at around 12.50pm on the Tuesday afternoon.
At the sentencing hearing of Paul Van Tamlin in December, Judge O’Callaghan commented that “something is not right” about that exit.
Judge O’Callaghan said that the design of the road created a further complication in the case.
He said, “Of that, there is no doubt because the evidence from the prosecution authorities from the following day when they observed the junction is that we all mis-use that junction because of its design and we join the laneway too late.”
Judge O’Callaghan said that the question can be asked is ‘should the motorway around Exit 13 be re-designated for the time being into dual carriageway and the speed limit reduced from 120km to 100km’ and that would reduce speed for lorries below 90km.
Judge O’Callaghan stated that this could be done with good reason “as it is clear that evidence before this court that when this junction was created, it was compliant with the standards that applied at the time but quite clearly it doesn’t comply with the standard applied today.”
The judge told the court, “Perhaps in honour of Mr Fogarty and his good family it is an issue that could be followed up in his name for the safety of all road users.”
At the inquest, Ms O’Dea found that the cause of death was extensive traumatic injuries to Mr Fogarty’s head consistent with a road traffic accident.
Ms O’Dea said to Mrs Fogarty “I hope this will bring some closure for you.”
In court last December, truck driver, Mr Van Tamlin (58) of Lough Ramor Camping Caravan Park, Virginia, County Cavan, walked free from court for the careless driving causing the death of Mr Fogarty.
Imposing a suspended 12-month prison term on Mr Van Tamlin, Judge O’Callaghan said it would not be of any positive service to Mr Fogarty’s memory or to society generally that Paul Van Tamlin would be sent to jail.
Judge O’Callaghan imposed the suspended prison term after a jury at Ennis Circuit Court found Mr Van Tamlin guilty of careless driving causing death and not guilty of dangerous driving causing death.
In her victim impact evidence, Mrs Fogarty recalled the moment two Gardai came into her primary school classroom to tell her that her husband of 36 years was killed in a road traffic accident.
Mr Fogarty left home six days a week at 5am to carry out his milk round and in her victim impact statement, MrsFogarty said that he was “a proud breadwinner for the family”.
Mrs Fogarty stated, “Michael was a devoted and much loved father to our three children, Jim, Edward and Susan but to me he was a soul mate and friend.”
She said, “As a husband, Michael was generous and selfless, loyal and steadfast and, most of all, fun to be around.”
Mrs Fogarty said that Michael’s loss in June 2018 “left a void in all our family’s lives, which was and still is, immense”.
Judge O’Callaghan said that an aggravating factor in the case was that cannabis was found in Mr Van Tamlin’s system but there was no evidence to suggest that it impaired his driving.
Mr Van Tamlin was driving within the speed limit and had no previous convictions from driving for 35 years.