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Hit-and-run driver admits being high and drunk before leaving cyclist with severed foot in "unforgivable and incomprehensible" collision

Niamh McDonnell pleaded guilty to the charges, the court hearing her partner alerted the authorities after finding the cyclist's "ripped off" foot wedged into the front of the car when she arrived home...

A cyclist whose foot was severed by a hit-and-run driver — who had smoked cannabis and got drunk at a pub before getting behind the wheel of a car and causing the serious collision which left the victim bleeding out, temporarily blind and with fractures to his spine, shoulder and ribs — has described the motorist's actions as "unforgivable and incomprehensible" as she pleaded guilty to numerous charges in court.

Niamh McDonnell had smoked a cannabis joint on the morning of the collision, Extra.ie reports, the court hearing how on finishing her shift at around 2.30pm she went to the pub and drank five vodkas, five shots of whiskey, as well as tequila. Turning down the offer of a lift home from a friend, the 30-year-old then left the pub in her mother-in-law's car and soon after hit off-duty garda Niall Flood from behind as he cycled on the R522 in Limerick.

Mr Flood had been wearing safety clothing and was using a light, but was hit and thrown into a ditch, suffering life-changing injuries. Despite Mr Flood bleeding out, with several fractures and having been left temporarily blind, McDonnell did not assist him and drove home with a flat tyre and shattered windscreen, where her partner found Mr Flood's foot still wedged into the front of the vehicle and alerted the authorities.

Limerick Circuit Court heard that a motorist who witnessed the hit-and-run was able to save the cyclist's life by making a tourniquet for his leg wound before he was airlifted to Cork University Hospital.

McDonnell claimed she had only drunk one drink before leaving the pub, something disproved by CCTV footage and bar receipts. The hit-and-run driver will be sentenced on November 24, having pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm, driving while drunk, failing to stop at the scene, failing to provide assistance, and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Mr Flood was unable to attend court due to his injuries, but a victim impact statement was read in which he said McDonnell's actions were "unforgivable and incomprehensible".

In the days following the collision, it was revealed the air ambulance had arrived on the scene 12 minutes after being notified, and the fast response was praised by Mr Flood's friends and colleagues as helping to save his life.

Liam Galvin, a Fine Gael councillor for Newcastle West, where Mr Flood is stationed, paid tribute to the cyclist, who he described as "an excellent Garda".

"He is one of the good guys, and our thoughts are with him and his wife. He had big ideas and plans for policing in Newcastle West and it is just a crying shame what has happened, and I just hope he will get well," the councillor told the Irish Examiner.

Yesterday, the words of the bereaved partner of a rising cycling star who was killed in a collision on Ireland's roads back in May were shared in the Irish press as Seán Landers, whose partner Gabriele Glodenyte was killed in a collision with an oncoming driver, said the roads have become "like a war zone" for cyclists.

Landers had been on a training ride with Glodenyte and stopped at a different part of the road to where she was killed. Arriving on the scene moments later he recalled seeing a driver getting out of their car and Gabriele's bike "really messed up" and the cyclist nowhere to be seen.

Gabriele Glodenyte wins a stage of the Newry Three Day in 2022 (credit - Sharon McFarland)

"I saw her bike and it was really messed up," he said. "It was broken in a lot of places. But she was nowhere to be seen near the bike.

"There was a period of time when I was calling her name, searching for her, but she was nowhere to be seen. And then I saw her socks, upside down in the ditch. But I just didn't think it was going to be fatal. I thought okay, she might be unconscious here. So I just jumped into the ditch to hold her hand and tell her everything was going to be okay, that we'd get help, to reassure her, 'I'm with you'.

"But once I picked her hand up I could feel there was no life there. She had serious injuries... I kind of knew she was gone. But I started doing CPR on her. I didn't know what to do, I just didn't want to do nothing. And the ambulance people were on the phone and they were telling me to keep going. But when they arrived, they just basically took one look at her and... I don't think they even put a hand on her. They just said to me 'Look, that's it, unfortunately'."

Explaining his motivation for telling his story, Landers expressed his desire to see the devastating impact of road collisions laid bare, saying the roads are "like a war zone" for cyclists.

"I think that if I came across a random person in the ditch that day, I'd be messed up from that," he said. "And in the same way, if Gabriele died in her sleep, I'd also be messed up. When you combine the two of them together... there are strange things going on in your head. The person you were going to spend the rest of your life with, gone in a heartbeat. No goodbyes."

Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.

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20 comments

Avatar
Mistertees | 3 months ago
2 likes

This is why I've decided to stop cycling to and from work. The standard of driving now is horrendous! No one cares if they hit you with their car (happened numerous times) and you're just treated as an inconvenience. And by the smell of some cars, plenty of people are driving around, off their faces on drugs. Unfortunately I am now back to driving everywhere, trying my best to avoid the poor cyclists who are still brave enough to be doing it.

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Flintshire Boy | 3 months ago
3 likes

.

Holy fork. Almost beyond belief.

.

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mctrials23 | 3 months ago
10 likes

Another depressing article about drivers not giving a shit about cyclists. Lying to try and avoid punishment and hearing the same bollocks like "their victim had lights, helmet and a reflective jacket on" as if the absence of these things would justify driving like a complete cunt. 

Whats the better that when it comes to trial the sentence will be pitiful because their victim didn't die (it wouldn't be much less than pitiful if they did) and that they will be given a reduced sentence because "they pled guilty and showed remorse"

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mattw | 3 months ago
2 likes

Better prospects for a serious punishment than in the UK in this case, I think.

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Left_is_for_Losers | 3 months ago
5 likes

Good grief... no excuses

Kudos to the bar for helping with all the evidence too and those who helped him. 

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chrisonabike replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 3 months ago
6 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Good grief... no excuses

Unfortunately I'd say this shows up just how far you have to go before "excuses" start to sound hollow.  Driving intoxicated is (mostly) seen as beyond the pale now, but do the same things without and that starts to be "accidents happen".

People have walked out of court free (or never gone there in the first place) having ticked many of those boxes (here's one).

Given our driveogenic environment I think we should be doing far more outside the legal system to reduce the incidence of this level of bad driving*.  But the legal system has to be a part of that change.

* Examples: a new overall principle for travel infra (replacing "maximum capacity for motor traffic consistent with safety").  Separate walking, cycling, and motor traffic infra provision where needed and a massive reduction in motor traffic speeds / volumes where modes can mix.  Treat a driving licence like any other licence to operate dangerous machines e.g. regular retesting of some kind and quicker recourse to suspending it or revoking it if conditions are broken.  Parallel "Health and safety" type investigations into collisions (just like we do for rail, air, and marine incidents) looking at the bigger picture rather than legalistic "who is at fault".

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Robert Hardy replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
4 likes

I would like to see the BBC mandated to treat a weeks motor accidents with the same resources as they would a major rail, aircraft crash or terrorist outrage every six months, which might raise the carnage and the astounding societal costs to the 'something must be don'e level.

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chrisonabike replied to Robert Hardy | 3 months ago
0 likes
Robert Hardy wrote:

I would like to see the BBC mandated to treat a weeks motor accidents with the same resources as they would a major rail, aircraft crash or terrorist outrage every six months, which might raise the carnage and the astounding societal costs to the 'something must be don'e level.

Conflicted about this idea.

Maybe collecting all the victims and telling stories (as RoadPeace have tried) might do something?  However - it's difficult to engage people because events with serious consequences in the UK are rare.  Many people get through life with this barely being tangential to them.

Also - what good comes of just making people think "gee - the roads aren't safe"?

In my view we've got into a dead end in the UK with regards "road safety" outside of the motor vehicle.  That's because we have "succeeded" - as in we have one of the safest road systems in the world statistically.

However that "success" is basically "...by driving everyone outside of a car off the roads".  It's come at the cost of convenience* when walking or cycling, of independent mobility for children and for some of those with disabilities and some health conditions.  It also means we've physically divided our communities and made our "places" much less pleasant to be in.

Because "it's safe" when we look at safety now it seems we're just considering "marginal gains".  If we want to move forward with getting more people to walk and cycle we'd have to "go backwards".  That would mean more radical physical changes - digging up carriageways, messing with junctions, changing how people wait for / board buses...  And probably for at least a generation the "safety" numbers would look worse (because change).

We'd need to stop looking at campaigns for people to be better people ("look out for each other"), or PPE or odd tech ideas for fixes and go back to considering behaviours and how the environment and (actually enforced) rules guide them.  To be fair though changing behaviour is hard - and changing the rules is extremely contentious.

If we want change it needs to happen within a framework. That's why I think as a first order of business we need to change our philosophy - our overall concept of "road space" and what it's for.  That's why I'm so interested in the Sustainable Safety concept / vision.  Not only is it tested and evolved (they're on the 3rd edition...) and you can look up the figures.  You can go and experience it for yourself!

An online magazine did try to track all deaths for a year and analyse what this was all about.  Unfortunately this was in the US so I'm not sure much productive conclusions can be drawn other than "yeah - the US is a car country and drivers will indeed kill ya".

* Or even sometimes "possibility".

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brooksby replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 3 months ago
8 likes

It's funny how often you hear, "But I only had one" when asked about their drinking following a collision.

Do people genuinely forget once they've had 

Quote:

five vodkas, five shots of whiskey, as well as tequila

or are they actively lying and hoping they won't get caught out?

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wtjs replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
10 likes

It's funny how often you hear, "But I only had one"

It's like "I gave you 1.5 metres", which this BMW nutter PK14 HLW claimed (when I caught him at the lights a few yards along), along with the threats to "fucking flatten" me, and "you will get knocked off". A couple of persistent months later the police said they'd "had a word with him". This was before they'd hit on the policy of never doing anything about anything

 

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essexian replied to Left_is_for_Losers | 3 months ago
4 likes
Left_is_for_Losers wrote:

Kudos to the bar for helping with all the evidence too and those who helped him. 

Sorry, but I am going to have to disagree with you over this....It is up to the bar to ensure that people don't get too drunk and incapable. If they have sold them too much booze: at least in England & Wales, they can lose their licence.

If its the same in the Republic, then the bar owner has questions to answer including are they fit to hold a licence. 

 

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Rendel Harris replied to essexian | 3 months ago
4 likes

My thoughts exactly, when (long ago now) I've tended bar we were under strict instructions not to serve people who were drunk and if people were someone would follow them to the car park and dissuade them, by force if necessary, from driving. I love a drink and I love pubs but those who sell intoxicants have a responsibility, both moral and legal, to monitor their customers and as far as possible prevent them hurting themselves or others.

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AidanR | 3 months ago
11 likes

Jesus, that's unspeakably grim

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brooksby replied to AidanR | 3 months ago
4 likes
AidanR wrote:

Jesus, that's unspeakably grim

I'm trying to imagine the reaction of any normal human being on finding a severed foot under the wheel arch... 

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chrisonabike replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
AidanR wrote:

Jesus, that's unspeakably grim

I'm trying to imagine the reaction of any normal human being on finding a severed foot under the wheel arch... 

When you say "normal" - is that "average" or a value judgement?  "Put it on the social meejas" springs to mind as a response which might occur...

Repugnant?  How does it compare to having a skinful and driving?  Or running over someone and thinking "screw it, not stopping now, I'll lose my licence *".

* There is no such thing for driving offences, as I think we've established.  You might get a ban of a few more years once you're out of prison...

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brooksby replied to chrisonabike | 3 months ago
1 like
chrisonatrike wrote:
brooksby wrote:
AidanR wrote:

Jesus, that's unspeakably grim

I'm trying to imagine the reaction of any normal human being on finding a severed foot under the wheel arch... 

When you say "normal" - is that "average" or a value judgement? 

Sorry - should have said, "Any human being who isn't a total sociopath"

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andystow replied to brooksby | 3 months ago
6 likes
brooksby wrote:
AidanR wrote:

Jesus, that's unspeakably grim

I'm trying to imagine the reaction of any normal human being on finding a severed foot under the wheel arch... 

Seriously, kudos to her partner for alerting the authorites though. Hopefully s/he has now moved on and found someone less toxic.

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wtjs | 3 months ago
5 likes

If Eire is anything like the UK, I can see this driver being subjected to a severe talking-to.

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brooksby replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
12 likes
wtjs wrote:

If Eire is anything like the UK, I can see this driver being subjected to a severe talking-to.

Ah, but remember that the victim was an off-duty member of the Garda.  Even in England, people seem to be treated rather more harshly when their victim is emergency services or otherwise "serving".

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mattw replied to wtjs | 3 months ago
1 like

I'd say 3 years in prison.

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