instinctive | 

Doting Co Down dad died trying to keep daughter safe as car rolled towards ditch

Loughlin Patrick Maginn, a chef who lived in Warrenpoint, was described as a devoted father to his only daughter, Megan

Loughlin Patrick Maginn died in a tragic accident

Lisa Smyth

A 39-year-old man died while trying to stop his then nine-year-old daughter from coming to harm as the car she was in rolled towards a ditch, a coroner has found.

Loughlin Patrick Maginn, a chef who lived in Warrenpoint, Co Down, was described in court as a devoted father to his only daughter, Megan.

The youngster has been in counselling since the tragic accident, which occurred in a public car park in Rathfriland on July 1, 2020, Mr Maginn’s inquest was told.

Delivering his narrative findings at Downpatrick Court on Friday afternoon, coroner Joe McCrisken said: “Clearly it will take some time for his young daughter to start to, if she ever does, come to terms with what happened that day.

“It does seem to me that he acted instinctively to try and prevent his daughter coming to harm, which seems from the evidence given, to be characteristic of the man you all knew and loved.”

A post-mortem found Mr Maginn died as a result of crush asphyxia, which happened when he became trapped underneath his black Golf VW car.

The accident happened shortly after 12.30pm after he parked the car in a public car park on Downpatrick Street in Rathfriland, intending to use the public toilets, leaving his daughter in the locked vehicle.

Mr McCrisken said: “His daughter said afterwards that when he got out of the vehicle, it began to roll forwards down the gradient of the car park towards a steep slope and a ditch.

“She said at some point Mr Maginn went around the front of the car and she lost sight of him.

“It is not known what exactly occurred next but passers-by were alerted to the presence of the car in the ditch and attempted to provide assistance.”

Mr Maginn was found by the passers-by underneath the car and they were unable to free his daughter from the vehicle.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and had to use cutting equipment to free her from the car.

An emergency medicine consultant who attended with the Northern Ireland Air Ambulance pronounced Mr Maginn deceased at the scene at 1.33pm.

Giving evidence at the inquest, Mr Maginn’s former partner and mum of Megan, described her daughter as “inconsolable” in the immediate aftermath of the accident.

Asked how the youngster is coping now, she said: “Megan has her moments, she has good days and bad days, it’s still too raw for her.”

And describing her former partner, she continued: “He was a very devoted daddy, very protective over Megan, he changed for her when she came along.”

She further agreed that he was a “doting” father who took every opportunity to be involved in his daughter’s life.

In relation to how the accident happened, Mr McCrisken said: “A toxicological examination of samples of blood and urine revealed no evidence that he was under the influence of any drugs or alcohol at the time of his death.”

The coroner explained that the car was fitted with a handbrake which could be operated using an auto hold function.

A forensic scientist who examined the vehicle said he believed the auto hold was activated prior to Mr Maginn getting out of the car but that the manual handbrake had not been applied, said Mr McCrisken.

He also said the car should have been prevented from rolling while it was in park mode.

However, “the vehicle was able to roll” while in park mode due to an issue with a cable in the gearbox.

The expert said the “faulty position” of the cable in the gearbox was not the reason why the auto hold did not engage the handbrake on the day of the accident.

Mr McCrisken continued: “The manual handbrake was not activated and this resulted in the vehicle being able to roll down the car park.

“It is not clear, having heard all the evidence, exactly how Mr Maginn came to be in the ditch with the weight of the vehicle on his body.

“It seems to me, however, to be highly probable that acting as a concerned father, he attempted to prevent the vehicle rolling into the ditch, fearing for the safety of his young daughter who was trapped inside.”

Today's Headlines

More Irish News

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos