A taxi driver involved in a fatal accident involving a pedestrian would not have had sufficient time to react ahead of impact, Londonderry Coroner’s Court has heard.
An inquest into the death of Ciaran Feeney (21) who lived at Tamnaherin Road near Eglinton, heard he had been on a night out in Derry with his friends but had become separated from them and was making his way home on his own.
Described by his mother Marie as “a quiet, lovely, wonderful son” Mr Feeney was struck by a taxi on the Glenshane Road at 1.50am on July 13, 2014 and was pronounced dead at Altnagelvin Hospital a short time later.
A post-mortem report showed that Mr Feeney had 248 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, around three times the legal limit for driving.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Peter Ingram said he found no drugs in Mr Feeney’s body but the level of alcohol would have left him unsteady on his feet.
Dr Ingram said Mr Feeney sustained a number of injuries including broken legs, ribs, a fractured skull, spine and neck as well as a tear to his aorta, one of the main valves in the heart.
The court heard that a taxi driver leaving a fare to the Ardmore area around 1.30am saw a man, later understood to be Mr Feeney, standing in the overtaking lane of the Glenshane Road near Altnagelvin Hospital with his head bowed as if he was texting on his mobile phone.
A second taxi driver, Joseph O’Doherty, gave evidence to the court that he was driving on the Glenshane Road at 1.50am in the direction of Drumahoe village when he noticed a man on the overtaking lane of the road at the same time as a car travelling in the opposite direction to him.
Mr O’Doherty said that the next thing he saw was Mr Feeney being thrown over the car and across the road.
He stopped his car immediately, rang the emergency services and went to give assistance until the police and ambulance service arrived.
The court also heard from the driver of the car which struck Mr Feeney, Liam Dazell, also a taxi driver, who said he was driving towards Derry city centre.
Mr Dazell said he was completely unaware of Mr Feeney until his windscreen suddenly smashed. He said he had “no idea” what he had hit but “feared it was a pedestrian”.
Coroner Brian Sherrard found that Mr Feeney had been returning home from a night out but it was not possible to say why he was on the road. He was heavily intoxicated at the time and died from injuries sustained when he was knocked down by a vehicle travelling towards Derry.