A POSTMAN who died following a collision with a car on the Ennis Road was not wearing his bicycle helmet at the time, an inquest into his death has heard.
Limerick Coroner’s Court was told that Damien Parker, 39, of Oakwood, Old Singland Road, died as a result of a road traffic accident at around 11am on Thursday, May 26, 2011 after he collided with a Renault Megane van. He had been carrying his helmet at the rear of his bike.
Damien, a father of five year-old twins, rose every morning at 5.20am to sort mail at the Dock Road before heading off on his bike for the daily round. The driver of the vehicle, who lives in Dooradoyle, said he saw the cyclist for a “split second”, coming on to the road from the Knockhill estate opposite the Greenhills hotel.
The driver said he tried to veer into his right lane as much as possible, but there was another car approaching. He then heard “a bang” and saw the deceased hitting the side of the vehicle.
“I was in shock. My legs felt like jelly. I didn’t know what was after happening,” he said, in a statement to gardai after the accident, which was read to the court.
“I did absolutely everything possible to avoid hitting the cyclist and the bicycle. There was nothing else I could have done.”
Garda Mike Reddy, a forensic collision investigator, who was at the scene, estimated that the driver of the van was travelling at speeds of between 33-39km/hr, “well below the speed limit”.
While the speed of the cyclist could not be determined, he said “it would have given the driver very little time to deal with the emergency”.
“The timeframe did not allow the driver any realistic chance of avoiding the collision,” said Garda Reddy.
A witness to the accident said he observed the cyclist travelling down the hill at speed on to the road and “knew he wouldn’t make the turn”.
He saw him being thrown from his bicycle and hitting the ground head first. After ringing 999 he was advised not to move the victim, and placed a duvet over him, which was handed to him by a resident in the estate.
“There was nothing the driver of the Megane could have done to avoid the collision,” he said.
Dr Elizabeth Mulcahy said the autopsy conducted on the deceased at the Mid-Western Regional Hospital showed that he suffered from severe cranial cerebral injuries. She said she could not comment on whether wearing a helmet would have prevented the injuries sustained. However, the coroner Dr Timothy Casey advised cyclists to wear helmets.
Sympathies were expressed from the gardai, the coroner and the jury to the Parker family on their tragic loss.