family devastation | 

Mum of tragic Estlin Wall (3) shares heartbreaking final Christmas photograph

Estlin was killed in a crash as her father was driving her to creche in Co Clare, on March 15, 2017

Niall DonaldSunday World

The heartbroken mother of Estlin Wall has shared a final Christmas photo of the 3-year-old which was taken weeks before she was killed in a crash.

Estlin, from Ennistymon, Co Clare, was just nine days short of her fourth birthday when she was killed in a collision as her father was driving her to creche in Co Clare on March 15, 2017.

Last year, an inquest heard that the truck driver who caused the collision was driving erratically and had suddenly pulled out from behind a bus travelling in the opposite direction to the car being driven by Estlin’s father Vincent.

The truck was described as dangerously defective, and witnesses said they thought the driver’s manoeuvre was “crazy” and “a bad move”.

Truck driver Senan O'Flaherty (64) was fined and was given a 16-month sentence which was suspended on condition that he be of good behaviour for two years.

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Writing on Twitter, Estlin’s mum described how the pain of her death hits home at Christmas.

Under a photograph of Estlin sitting by the family’s Christmas tree, her mother Amy says: "Our last Christmas with Estlin. 3 days later I gave birth to her beloved baby brother.

"11 weeks later a dangerous driver stole her from us forever. It took us 3 yrs before we could celebrate the holiday again but it’ll never be the same without her.”

Amy Dutil-Wall with daughter Estlin.

After one Twitter user asked Amy if the truck driver had been jailed, Amy responds:

“Nope. He only lost his license for 4 years and had to pay a €1,500 fine. A massive insult. My husband also left with a permanent brain injury after the crash. Our lives destroyed in an instant."

Senan O’Flaherty (64) from Cooraclare in Co Clare, was initially fined €1,500 and banned from driving for four years after pleading guilty to charges of careless driving causing death and careless driving causing serious bodily harm.

But the Court of Appeal later ruled that the sentence originally handed down to the truck driver was too lenient and imposed a 16-month sentence, suspended for two years.

It found that the original judgment – which placed O’Flaherty’s culpability at the lower end of the scale – had been wrong.

The court found that the trial judge was wrong to place O'Flaherty's culpability at the lower end of the scale with Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy saying he was at the "upper end" and that his blameworthiness was more significant than that identified by the judge.

She said that in the lead up to the tragic accident, which took the life of three-year-old Estlin Wall and caused serious injuries to her father Vincent Wall, witnesses saw "unusual features" in O'Flaherty's driving.

in 2021, an inquest into Estlin’s death heard harrowing details of the crash which occurred near Inagh, Co Clare.

O’Flaherty’s evidence, given by deposition to the inquest, was that he thought the bus in front of him was “driving funny”, had a mechanical problem because its speed was varying, and that he had looked to overtake it if it was safe but he was not in a hurry.

Amy Dutil-Wall with her partner Vincent Wall, and daughter Estlin, who lost her life in the tragic crash

He said he was not aware of a collision behind him until gardaí stopped him.

The medical evidence heard was that Estlin suffered blunt force trauma in the impact and had a fractured skull and went into cardiac arrest .

She was transferred to Temple Street Children’s Hospital by air ambulance but her injuries were not survivable.

The inquest heard that the collision occurred after O’Flaherty attempted to overtake a bus on an uphill section of road approaching a bend as Mr Wall was driving from the opposite direction.

Although Mr Wall’s car did not strike the truck, it spun out of control after going on a grass verge in an evasive manoeuvre and hit an oncoming vehicle behind the truck.

Morgan Lahiffe, whose vehicle was struck by Mr Wall’s car, said he immediately thought “bad move” when the truck started to overtake the bus.

Mr Lahiffe said the truck driver appeared to struggle to keep control of his vehicle as he pulled out of the overtaking manoeuvre.

Another eyewitness, Geraldine Kilbane, who was also travelling behind the truck said she would never overtake at such a location.

“I said to myself ‘what is he doing? Where is he going as there was a car coming down the hill," she said.

In a written statement, O’Flaherty claimed the bus driver had been going very slow and slowing down to 10mph on bends which led him to think there was something wrong with the bus.

O’Flaherty, who did not attend the inquest due to medical reasons, denied that he had ever tried to overtake the bus as he was carrying a heavy load of boulders from a nearby quarry but he admitted pulling out to see if it was safe to overtake several times.

The driver, who did not see the collision, claimed he had seen the bus move out into the other lane and had followed suit because he thought there might be some obstacle on the road.

The driver of the bus, Martin Hurley, denied that he had moved into the oncoming lane at any stage.

Mr Hurley, who was also unaware of the collision until contacted by gardaí, said he was aware the truck behind him had been trying to overtake him. He said: "I thought it was crazy."

Garda Brendan Condon, a vehicle inspector, said an examination of O’Flaherty’s tipper truck had shown it was dangerously defective due to the poor condition of its tyres, steering, and brakes.

Garda Condon said a tachograph had shown that the truck driver had been driving erratically and constantly speeding up and braking.

He claimed O’Flaherty’s speed was always between 40 and 60km/h which did not support the truck driver’s claims about slowing down for the bus.

Asked about the location of the collision, Garda Condon replied: “That’s not a road where you would overtake with a truck.”

The coroner, Dr Crona Gallagher, recorded a verdict of death in accordance with associated court proceedings of death due to careless driving.

Speaking after the inquest, Estlin’s mother, Amy Wall, said the evidence had provided “a renewed sense of injustice from the criminal proceedings”.

However, she said the family had heard all the information it had expected to hear two years earlier during a trial which did not go ahead due to a last-minute guilty plea.

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