A FORENSIC collision investigator referred in an inquest this week to TV advertisements which warn that speed kills – but said there can be a greater danger when vehicles are taking off from a stationary position.
Garda Michael Reddy made his comments during an inquest into the death of a Spanish woman who died after she was crushed by an articulated truck in the city centre last year.
This Wednesday, Limerick Coroner’s Court heard Natalia Jimenez, 30, left her home at Riverpoint that morning and was cycling to work at Cook Medical when the accident happened at around 7.30am – at the junction of Rutland Street and Charlotte Quay. Ms Jimenez was originally from Murcia but had been living in Limerick for a number of years.
The inquest was told Ms Jimenez cycled into the blind spot of a lorry being driven by Mike Hogan as he began to move off when the lights turned green. Several eyewitnesses gave evidence of seeing the accident unfold and the events in the immediate aftermath.
The inquest heard as Mr Hogan moved off, Ms Jimenez had cycled diagonally across the front of the lorry. Witnesses said she tried to move away but became trapped and was crushed under the lorry’s wheels.
Mr Hogan told the inquest he noticed a man in car on Fr Mathew Bridge flashing his lights and waving frantically before he heard a thud.
Garda Reddy told the court that he examined the truck but he found no defects.
Ms Jimenez, he said, moved into a blind spot in the cycle box at the junction and as she was within two metres of the front of the lorry, the driver would not have been able to see her.
Garda Reddy said he believed that Ms Jimenez pulled her bike in front of Mr Hogan in the very last seconds before impact and that there was nothing he could have done to avoid a collision.
“When a HGV is stationary, it is difficult for a driver to maintain control of blind spots in an urban area. At speed, it is much easier to control the risks,” he said.
“The TV ads that say speed kills are far from the truth as the greatest danger for a fatality is at the first metre of moving when the risk is greatest,” he added.
A verdict of accidental death was recorded.