Former World Handball Champion feared he would be killed in crash with cow

Former World Handball Champion Declan Frawley.

A FORMER world handball champion told a court that he feared for his life and thought “that’s it” after his car struck a loose cow on the M18 motorway on the approach road to Limerick.

When he arose from the late-night collision with the cow near Cratloe on the motorway linking Limerick and Ennis on August 17, 2021, Declan Frawley told Ennis Circuit Court that “there were so many fragments of glass in my eyes I couldn’t see”.

Paramedics at the scene taped down Mr Frawley’s eyes and he was brought by ambulance to University Hospital Limerick (UHL) where a medic removed the glass particles from his eyes with a tweezers.

As a result of the bovine collision, Mr Frawley (48), a factory worker living in Ennis, was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and sustained a back injury.

In court, Judge Francis Comerford awarded damages of €34,368 to Mr Frawley, made up of €32,000 in general damages and €2,368 in special damages.

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Liability was admitted in the personal injury action taken by Mr Frawley against Cratloe man John Whyte and the case was before Judge Comerford for assessment of damages only.

In evidence, Mr Frawley said that he was driving to Limerick at around 11.30pm to night-shift work when, past Setright’s pub at Cratloe, “I came upon the cow on the road out of nowhere”.

“I tried to swerve to avoid him but it just brought me into him and swung me across the road. I lost control of the steering wheel, it came off my hand, and the car hit the steel barrier on the left-hand side and the car did a few U-turns.”

He said that he “feared for my life – I wanted to get out of the car. The door was jammed on my right-hand side and I leaned back and kicked the door out and I got out onto the road.”

“There were so many fragments of glass in my eyes I couldn’t see. Paramedics told me the best option was to tape down my eyelids and just relax.”

Mr Frawley was transferred by ambulance to UHL, where he said a medic “proceeded to take the glasses out of my eyes with a tweezers”.

Mr Frawley said that his son was two years old at the time and “I was praying to God that I would see him and hold him again”.

“When I impacted the cow, I thought – ‘that’s it’.”

Counsel for Mr Frawley, Lorcan Connolly BL, said that Mr Frawley was confronted without warning “by a beast, a cow” on the motorway, and the collision caused considerable damage to the car.

Mr Connolly stated that the accident had significant impacts on Mr Frawley where a consultant psychiatrist has diagnosed him with having PTSD and he is left with consistent back pain.

He said that an MRI scan on Mr Frawley had recorded “objective signs of some degree of damage to the spinal column”.

In his judgement, Judge Comerford noted that Mr Frawley’s eye injuries resolved and fully recovered and he was back driving and working within six weeks, adding that the circumstances of the crash “were highly traumatic”.

The judge stated that a diagnosis of PTSD is very foreseeable from an accident of this nature and that Mr Frawley wasn’t in any way exaggerating when talking of the psychological impact the crash has had on him.

In calculating damages, Judge Comerford stated that the PTSD “isn’t at the higher level, but is present and is a real factor”, and stated that there should be uplift in the award for the back injury “because of the future element in the injury”.

“The pain at present is indefinite,” he said.