Brave Garda has a “strong desire to return to work” despite suffering life-changing injuries in tragic drunken hit-and-run

Mother of two Niamh McDonnell left Garda Niall Flood bleeding in a ditch after severing his foot in a drunken hit-and-run. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

A GARDA Inspector, who was left for dead in a ditch after his foot was severed in a drunken hit-and-run while he was off-duty, said he hopes to return to work.

Niall Flood (53), of Newcastle West, suffered life-changing injuries when he was knocked down from behind by drink and drug driver Niamh McDonnell on June 30 last year. McDonnell (30) hit Mr Flood from behind, severing his right foot.

The mother of two from Gortskagh, Castlemahon, did not stop and drove home with her windscreen and other parts of the car smashed up from the impact of the collision.

Mr Flood was dragged onto the bonnet of the car before being “sent flying” into a ditch and left to “bleed out”.

Passing motorists who witnessed the collision saved the local Garda’s life by tying a tourniquet around his injured leg.

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McDonnell was almost three times over the legal alcohol blood threshold of 50mg/100ml of blood when she failed a alcohol blood test which provided Gardai with a reading of 136mg/100ml blood.

McDonnell also failed a drug test when Gardaí caught up with her at her home shortly after the collision. The legal threshold for cannabis is 1ng/ml blood, and Gardai found that McDonnell had 27.7ng/ml blood shortly after she had ploughed into Mr Flood.

McDonnell admitted smoking a cannabis joint earlier that morning, and consumed five vodkas plus an additional five shots of whiskey, tequila, and liquor at a pub after she had finished a shift at a crèche where she had been working for four years.

Following her arrest, McDonnell told Gardaí: “He went up onto the bonnet, my windscreen was destroyed. I kept going, I didn’t stop, I kept going.”

Mr Flood was airlifted from the scene to Cork University Hospital (CUH), however his foot could not be reattached by surgeons as it had been “contaminated” in the impact with the car.

He was brought back from the brink twice, firstly by a man who used a tourniquet at the scene to stem the blood flow form his leg wound, and later when doctors had to resuscitate him in the Emergency Department of CUH.

Mr Flood also sustained multiple fractures in his spine and ribs, cuts, and lacerations, and was rendered “totally helpless” for months afterwards while he struggled with “excruciating pain” while at the trauma ward at CUH.

The court hard he was “unlikely to completely recover function in his lumbar spine area” and he would likely continue to suffer with “fatigue and stiffness into the future”.

Mr Flood was an “avid cyclist” who cycled up to 200km per week prior to the collision.

Garda Niall Flood was left with life-changing injuries from the incident. Photo: Brendan Gleeson.

Det Sgt Reidy said witnesses told Gardaí that, at the time of the collision, Mr Flood “as he always had done religiously” was cycling safely and responsibly, wearing visibility clothing and had a flashing light activated on his bike.

Despite his “devastating” injuries, Mr Flood has told colleagues that he is determined to return to work in some capacity.

“He has expressed a strong desire to return to work in the future,” Detective Sergeant Michael Reidy said.

McDonnell’s own defence barrister, senior counsel Brian McInerney, said his client’s actions on the day were indeed “criminal”, and that whatever sentence would be imposed on McDonnell by the court “she has brought it on herself”.

Paying tribute to Mr Flood, Mr McInerney said: “I know Inspector Flood, I knew him as Sergeant Flood and as Garda Flood, and he was always a fair-minded member of An Garda Síochána, who always gave his evidence before the courts in a fair manner, and he has always struck me as someone of tremendous character.”

McDonnell, who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Mr Flood, drink and drug driving, failing to stop at the scene, failing to render assistance to Mr Flood, will be sentenced at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court on November 24.