Investigation launched into road death of nursing home resident

NewsBy Sunday World

The health watchdog Hiqa is reviewing the death of a nursing home resident who was killed in a crash which left two gardaí injured.

The 66-year-old man, who was a resident of the Little Flower Nursing Home in Labane, Co Galway, died yesterday after he was hit by a car at 12.30am while standing on the side of a road.

Two gardaí, who were searching for the man, were left with serious injuries in the incident.

Gardaí and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) are investigating the incident after the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) found there was no garda misconduct involved.

The man, who was not from the local area but is understood to be from Galway, had been transferred to the nursing home recently.

The pensioner went missing from the facility on Sunday night. It is understood he had not been suffering from any form of dementia.

Gardaí were alerted and a patrol car was sent to the area to search for the man.

Two gardaí came across the man on the N18, some 2km from Labane village, shortly after 12.30am yesterday.

Within moments of leaving their patrol car to speak to the man, he was struck by a car coming towards them.

The vehicle also struck the stationary patrol car and left the gardaí with multiple injuries.

The man was pronounced dead at the scene. His remains were brought to University Hospital Galway for a post-mortem.

The officers were also taken to hospital where their injuries were described as serious but not life-threatening.

It is understood they sustained a number of broken bones in the incident.

A source said that both gardaí are facing "a long road to recovery".

The driver of the car that crashed into the patrol vehicle, a man in his 40s, was arrested at the scene and taken to Gort Garda Station for questioning. He has since been released.

Hiqa was notified of the incident by the nursing home, which was legally required to do so.

A spokesman for the body said it would review the incident.

"The provider in this case has notified us of the circumstances. We will evaluate all the facts and we will follow up with the provider, as would be the norm in these cases," he said.

It is understood the home in question has a strong level of compliance with all regulations.

Sources say it seems to have been a tragic incident and they do not expect any further action to be taken.

An investigation by the Garda Ombudsman into the incident was immediately launched and two investigators travelled to the scene yesterday morning.

After an examination of the scene, they ruled there was no garda misconduct in the case.

"Gsoc has now examined the circumstances of the fatal incident which occurred near Gort, Co Galway, this morning and has identified no garda misconduct. The Garda Síochána investigation continues," it said in a statement.

Locals in the Ardrahan area told of their shock at hearing the news of the tragic accident.

"Everyone is so upset for the poor man involved. It's such a sad accident, may God rest him.

"People locally are just hoping the two gardaí will make a full recovery, it's an awful thing to happen when they were just out doing their jobs," said one local woman.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Gerry Finnerty said the community "woke to a terrible tragedy".

"It highlights the dangers for pedestrians walking at night on these roads.

"It's just so dangerous. It's hard on everyone involved including the driver," he said.

Mr Finnerty also praised the gardaí for the work they carry out.

"It could have been a lot worse if those two gardaí had been badly hurt.

"While they don't have any life-threatening injuries, they will have to deal with the shock and trauma of what happened," he added.

The stretch of the N18 was closed for a number of hours yesterday to facilitate an examination by Garda Forensic Collision Investigators.

Gardaí have now appealed for any witnesses to the incident to come forward.