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Fatal Burnfoot crash recalled 18.11.08

"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 25, 2007.
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 testimony.
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.
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