The driver of a rally car involved in an horrific crash that claimed the life of his co-driver in the Donegal International rally in 2010 said not only did he lose his navigator but also “a good friend”, his inquest heard this week.
The inquest into the death of the late Thomas Maguire from Moneymore, Enfield Co. Meath, ruled his death was accidental and he had died from head and neck injuries consistent with being involved in a road traffic accident.
He died at Knockalla on June 19, 2010, when the Citroen car he was a co-driver of left the road at high speed during the event and landed down a ravine, leaving him fatally injured.
Addressing the court driver Shane Buckley, who was seriously injured in the accident, apologised to Thomas’s family including his parents Tom and Maura, sisters Suzanne and Calista and brothers Mark and Robert.
“I can only imagine their pain and suffering to bury a son and brother. It is a hard cross to bear,” he told the inquest.
He added: “Not only did I lose my navigator but I lost a good friend as well.”
He said they both shared a love of rallying and knew the risks and spent many happy hours planning rally events.
Garda Sergeant Bridget McGowan said on behalf of the Maguire family that they held “no ill will” towards Shane Buckley as they were both engaged in a sport they loved.
They also wished to thank everyone who helped at the accident scene including the emergency services, spectators and rally personnel.
In his deposition to the inquest, Robert Maguire, brother of the deceased, said he had been in the vicinity of the accident at Knockalla and had observed the car going over the crest. He had run over to see where the vehicle had gone off the road. A lot of people had gathered at the scene and he had indicated that his brother was in the car. He had approached a man who told him that he could find no pulse when he had examined Thomas’s body and he was not breathing.
The rescue teams had arrived quickly and a doctor at the scene confirmed that Thomas had no pulse. “A number of people offered their condolences,” Robert Maguire revealed.
He had contacted another brother, Mark, who said he would inform their father. His parents were subsequently brought by helicopter to Letterkenny General Hospital where the body had been conveyed.
Asked by the coroner about his brother’s involvement in rallying, Robert Maguire said he had always taken part as a navigator. He revealed he had been standing between 200 and 300 metres away from where the car had gone off the road.
Investigating officer, Garda John McCafferty said he had been on traffic duty in Kerrykeel when he became aware during the course of the afternoon that there had been an accident on Stage 11.
Garda Kevin Giles, who undertook a technical examination of the car, offered testimony that the vehicle would have been in “mid-air” for forty six metres and would have dropped 8.6 metres into a ravine.
READ MORE IN TODAY’S DONEGAL DEMOCRAT.