A man who admitted driving his car after having several drinks has been jailed for causing the death of a Donegal mother of two.
Damien McGeehan pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of Marie O’Donnell on August 11th, 2011 in Milford, and was jailed for five years.
Mrs O’Donnell, a teacher, was returning home from a social event when McGeehan crossed to the wrong side of the road and collided head-on with her car.
She was killed instantly and her husband John, who sleeping in the car, suffered multiple injuries.
McGeehan, 20, pleaded guilty at Letterkenny Circuit Court of having no insurance, no driving license, driving unaccompanied, driving dangerously and driving with two bald tyres.
The court heard how McGeehan and girlfriend Simone Duggan had been at a function and returned to Ms Doogan’s flat where they had an argument. He went looking for the keys which she had hidden.
He eventually found them and raced out the door into his car as she jumped into the car in her pyjamas pleading with him not to drive.
McGeehan had not been insured as he had failed to keep up payments on his €4,000 premium for his Honda Civic car.
He was only a little over 600 yards up the road when he smashed into Mrs O’Donnell from Knockbrack, Portsalon, and her husband in their Nissan Micra car.
The well-known teacher from Drumfad National School in Kerrykeel died and her husband was hospitalised.
Mr O’Donnell suffered head injuries, a fractured sternum, a liver bleed and had part of his intestine removed.
McGeehan broke both his ankles, his elbow and suffered a punctured lung and was in a coma for days after the crash on the road between Milford and Kilmcrennan.
In his victim impact statement John O’Donnell said his wife was the centre of his family’s world.
He said he could not describe his loneliness and the impact her death had had on the couple’s two sons George and Jonathon.
“Marie was a beautiful person with a heart of gold. And her loss is not isolated to me.
“Our sons George and Jonathon. Can you imagine the pain of their loss – never being able to speak to their mum again,” he said.
Mrs O’Donnell’s son George said the last thing he remembers about his mum on the night she was killed was her doing a twirl and asking him if she looked well.
The tragic teacher’s other son was broken the news by an aunt who contacted me by phone as he was camping in California
In his statement son Jonathon said “She was beautiful. A firecracker on the 4th – drop dead beautiful. Her memory is the drive I need. She will always be the force that will always push me to my potential,” he said.
The accused Damian McGeehan told the court that he has wanted so many times to apologise to the O’Donnell family but could not.
“I wanted to say I could not imagine the damage I have caused and I cannot sympathise enough with him (John O’Donnell) and his family. I am sorry to take away a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and an aunt,” he said.
Judge John O’Hagan said the event was preventable, avoidable and didn’t have to happen.
“It is shocking and not unusual in Donegal. The clock can’t be turned back.
He sentenced McGeehan to five years in prison and banned him from driving for 20 years for dangerous driving causing death.