A LIMERICK man was served up to seven drinks before he was involved in a collision that claimed the life of a married couple, his trial at Limerick Circuit Court was told last week. Because of the life-threatening injuries he sustained in the crash, Gardaí were unable to take a blood sample from Michael Harty (29) of St Mary’s Terrace, Askeaton, who was before the court on a charge of dangerous driving causing the death of 61-year-old Maurice Hartnett and his wife, Margaret of Gurteen West, Ballingarry on July 29, 2009.
Dr Nigel Salter, an emergency registrar at the Mid Western Regional Hospital in Dooradoyle said he was on duty when he was notified by the ambulance services of a road traffic accident with “potential fatal injuries”.
Maurice Hartnett was assessed at 19.55 and found to have a fractured pelvis and fractures to both femurs. His condition deteriorated and he was in cardiac arrest. Dr Salter said he worked on Mr Hartnett for 25 minutes but efforts to resuscitate him failed and he was pronounced dead at 20.20. The crash had also claimed the life of Mr Hartnett’s wife, Margaret.
Mr Harty had to undergo emergency surgery for severe blood loss while Jeremy O’Brien, a passenger in Mr Harty’s jeep, had multiple fractures but was in a stable condition.
Michael Harty was agitated and refused to conform to spinal injury restriction so his injuries could be assessed. He also had “deformity to his lower limbs”, according to Dr Salter who said he also had fractures to both ankles.
During treatment, Michael Harty’s blood pressure dramatically dropped and his heart rate increased. This was consistent with “massive internal bleeding” and he was “not clinically stable”.
Based on his medical condition, Dr Salter told the court that a garda request for a blood sample was refused as a decision had been made to transfer Mr Harty to the emergency surgical theatre to treat massive blood loss.
Liam O’Sullivan, a barman at Aunty Lena’s pub in Adare, told the court that Michael Harty was in the bar with another man and they drank “five or six pints each” between 12noon and 1pm on July 29, 2009. Mr O’Sullivan said that the pair were still there at 3.30pm but left shortly afterwards.
Under cross-examination, Mr O’Sullivan said that in his statement he said he thought it “was a Harty in the bar” but later confirmed that the man he served drink to was in the courtroom.
Maurice Murphy, a barman at Quaid’s bar in Ballingarry said he served the two men “a long neck lager each” that afternoon. He saw them leave “in a jeep type thing” and in his statement said he noticed Mr Harty was “stone cold sober”.
Emergency Medical Technician, Donal O’Donnell said he was at the scene of the crash at Ardtomin on the road between Askeaton and Rathkeale and was alone with Mr Harty who was trapped in the 4×4 at the time. It took 25 minutes to free him and being just inches from Mr Harty at the time, he got a “strong smell of alcohol”.
The case continues before Judge Carroll Moran.