We have had the Dismissed 999 Calls, but how did this Blunder happen? The Keystone Cops are again in the ruck. Imagine the Families???

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Gardaí wrongly told woman her son (12) had died in horror crash


TWO gardaí mistakenly delivered a book of condolences to the mother of a boy who had survived a car crash, while the mother of a man who died in the same collision was told he was recovering in hospital.

It was one of a series of mishaps as a result of a misidentification of two males, one aged 24 and the other 12, from the crash on September 26, 2019, that claimed two lives.

A double inquest at Ennis, Co Clare, heard the bodies of two men, driver Patrick Hogan (30), of Brown’s Quay, Thomondgate, Limerick, and back seat passenger Jonathan Healy (24), of Creagh Avenue, Kileely, Limerick, were incinerated after the collision at Quins-pool, Parteen, near Limerick city, shortly after midnight on September 26, 2019, when the car became engulfed in fire following a fuel tank rupture.

In her deposition, Gillian Hogan said she had decided she would formally identify the body of her 12-year-old son, Jason, after gardaí delivered to her home a book of condolences and a request about who would identify him.

However, Ms Hogan said she received a call from her sister at lunchtime on the day to say Jason was in fact alive and in hospital in Dublin.

In her deposition, Ms Hogan said: “At that point, I didn’t really believe it, as the gardaí said that it was Jason in the car.”

At the inquest, both families demanded answers as to how the error happened.

The late Patrick Hogan was Jason’s uncle, and Patrick’s mother, Irene Hogan, asked at the inquest: “How could you mistake Jason for a fully-grown man? No way.”

She told the coroner’s court: “It is important for the other family to know and it is important for our family to know as well how this mix-up happened. Jason was a 12-year-old child at the time and we were told he was dead.”

Now aged 14, front seat passenger Jason and another survivor of the crash were found on the ground near the burning car and taken to University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

The bodies of the dead men remained in the burnt-out car.

Colum McCarthy, senior officer with the Limerick Fire Service, told the inquest the crash scene was “pandemonium” and “very chaotic”.

Jackie Taylor, the mother of Jonathan Healy, travelled to St James’s Hospital to see her son, who she thought was still alive. At the bedside, she said: “I lifted up the sheet at the bottom. I looked at his feet and they were small. Jonathan is a size 11. I knew then that it wasn’t Jonathan in the bed.”

She then rang Gillian Hogan. She said: “I told Gillian, ‘You will need to get up here to your son and I will need to get to Limerick to my son’. I knew Jonathan was deceased.”

Sgt Dermot Keating, of Mayorstone garda station, told the inquest the information relayed to the families was based “on information we received in the hospital that there were two adult males being treated in the hospital”.

Insp Helen Costelloe told the inquest: “I appreciate that this is extremely traumatic. Sgt Keating and his colleagues acted on whatever information they gathered at the scene and the circumstances of the scene were absolutely chaotic.”

An expert said the Ford Focus was travelling at least twice the 50kmh speed limit when it veered over to the wrong side of the road, became airborne, crashed into a wall and burst into flames.

Mr Hogan’s blood alcohol was more than seven times the legal limit to drive.

Post-mortem examinations found the two men died of severe head injuries, and found no soot in their airways, meaning they were dead when the car caught fire. They had to be identified through DNA.

In her verdict, Clare County Coroner Isobel O’Dea found that the cause of death for each of the deceased was in accordance with the medical evidence.

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