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.
"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.