Litany of devastating Slane Bridge accidents recounted at oral hearing

Story by Ann Casey

Wednesday, 23rd February, 2011 4:59pm

Litany of devastating Slane Bridge accidents recounted at oral hearing

Eugene Cummins, of Meath County Council, in conversation with independent observer Douglas C Comer at the Slane Bypass Oral Hearing.

The tragic death of two year old local toddler, David Garvey, was one of a litany of devastating accidents in Slane which were recounted at the Oral Hearing on the Slane Bypass last week. John Ryle of the Slane Bridge Action Group said he had seen 'the most indescribably horrific accidents,' including the incident when the little boy was crushed to death when a truck crashed into the rear of the car driven by his mother as they waited for a green light to cross Slane bridge.

The hearing also heard of a another incident some years previously, where two people trapped in the car following a collision suffered a horrific death when their car exploded following the impact.

"On another occasion, a HGV failed to negotiate the sharp turn onto the bridge. On its side, it slid along the parapet towards the centre of the bridge before tumbling into the river, 12 to 14 feet below. The driver did not survive. Two days later the operator of the crane used to lift the wreckage from the riverbed lost his life when the crane toppled into the river," Mr Ryle told the hearing.

The twenty two crosses erected on the bridge are in memory of the 22 fatalities that have occurred on a stretch of road through Slane from McGruders Cross to the top of Slane village.

"Eleven of those were locals – Paddy Cassidy, Richard Crinion, Packy Darby, Sean Gallagher, David Garvey, Peter Harding, Mary Harding, Toddy Harding, Myra McGuirk, who was well advanced in pregnancy, Patsy Proudfoot and Michael Wogan," said Mr Ryle.

He also spoke of some of the 'miraculous escapes' in the village over the years. "My next door neighbour's four year old daughter and her two year old sister (blissfully asleep in her pram) were both trapped for an hour or so under an articulated truck. A heavily laden articulated truck being towed by another heavily laden truck jack-knifed.

The mother failed to pull her children up a steep bank in time. The four year old suffered some lasting injury. The two year old was miraculously unhurt.

To this day the mother cannot understand how she escaped without serious injury," he said.

The hearing was shown a picture of a bus dangling over the edge of the bridge. The occupants, juvenile footballers and their mentors from Ballincollig, County Cork escaped out the back window.

The hearing also saw images of trucks which crashed through the parapet into the river or the canal, trucks that had overturned – losing their loads in the process, trucks that had deliberately crashed in the village itself into any obstacle, such as steps, walls, poles, or gateways, that would stop their uncontrolled progress downhill.

Mr Ryle recalled that following the death of David Garvey, residents of Slane were so enraged that a public meeting was called at which The Slane Bridge Action Group was formed to campaign vigorously for the construction of a bypass to put an end once and for all to all the terrible accidents that had occurred.

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