"He didn't get a chance
to settle down"
INISHOWEN'S coroner has once again appealed to young
male drivers to slow down.
Dr John Madden made his comments at the inquest into
the death of Jonathan (Johnny) Sheerin, who was
killed in a single-vehicle crash on the main
Burnfoot to Muff road in the early hours of November
The 21 year old from 30 Brookhill, Culmore, Derry,
died instantly when the Vauxhall Cavalier car he was
driving crashed into a ditch at Drumhaggart on the
Birdstown Road, shortly after 4.30am. His three male
passengers, Daniel Coyle, his brother James Coyle of
Clar, Redcastle and Donnacha McNicholl, who all
survived the horrific crash, appeared at the inquest
in Carndonagh on Friday to give evidence.
In his deposition, Daniel Coyle said the friends had
been on a night out that included a visit to the
Ture Inn, Muff and then on to the Tul na Ri
nightclub in Carndonagh. Afterwards, they caught a
minibus to Derry and went to the home of Mr Sheerin
to collect his car. His maroon-coloured Cavalier was
blocked in by his father's car but it was driven
over the lawn to get out, according to his father's
Daniel Coyle said he was in the front passenger seat
while his brother and Donnacha McNicholl were in the
back of the vehicle. They were heading to Bridgend
for petrol before travelling onwards to another
house with a carry-out. At one stage the car reached
speeds of between 80 and 85mph, said Mr Coyle. He
looked in the back of the vehicle and saw that his
brother and Mr. McNicholl were asleep. When he
turned back he looked over at the driver and saw
that his face had turned white "as if he saw a
ghost". He remembered nothing after that. The jury
was told that all four men were thrown out of the
car on impact, three onto the road and one into the
bushes. Donnacha McNicholl said he assumed Johnny
Sheerin wasn't drinking on the night because "he
looked reasonably sober". Mr McNicholl testified
that he was severely injured in the accident. He
suffered broken bones, was unconscious for nearly
two weeks and endured seven bleeds to the brain.
The inquest also heard that the least injured was
James Coyle, who was thrown into the bushes on
impact. It also heard of the sterling efforts by the
emergency services including ambulance personnel,
NowDoc and the Gardai, to save the men's lives using
CPR. The seven-person jury was told that the
deceased man suffered multiple injuries to his body.
The fatal injury, however, was a major fracture to
the base of his skull. The jury returned a verdict
of accidental death due to a road crash. In his
summing up, Dr Madden said road deaths, particularly
in Donegal, were a controversial issue but he said
all young men were responsible for driving too fast.
"All young men drive too fast. I was once a young
man and I drove too fast. Some settle down later on
but some unfortunately don't get that chance.
Jonathan didn't get that chance," said Dr Madden,
offering his sympathies to the Sheerin family.