incident | 

Jury urges full review of lighting on Luas after fatal accident

Bad weather and poor light were contributory factors to incident on Red Line
The jury recommended that all public lighting along the Luas network be reviewed

The jury recommended that all public lighting along the Luas network be reviewed

Luas driver Philip Cashera at Dublin District Coroner's Court

Luas driver Philip Cashera at Dublin District Coroner's Court© Colin Keegan

Seán McCárthaighSunday Independent

A jury has called for a review of public lighting across the entire Luas network, after an inquest heard a tram driver involved in a fatal accident three years ago did not see a heavily intoxicated male lying on the railway track.

Chinedu Oloo-Omee (30), a father of one from Clearwater Court South, Ashtown, Dublin 15, died after being struck by a tram near the stop at Kingswood on the Luas Red Line around midnight on March 12, 2019.

The inquest showed CCTV images from Luas trams which captured Mr Oloo-Omee lying on the track, but who was barely able to be seen.

Tram driver Philip Cashera said weather conditions on the night were “atrocious”, as there had been a severe storm with torrential rain.

Mr Cashera described visibility at the time on the stretch of track where the collision took place as “very difficult and very poor”.

The driver stressed he did not see anyone on the track before hearing a loud bang, about 150 yards after he had driven away from the stop at Kingswood, heading towards Tallaght, and after passing another Luas tram heading in the opposite direction.

The driver said he hit the emergency brake and subsequently discovered a body lying on the ground at the back of the tram.

In response to a question from the coroner, Cróna Gallagher, Mr Cashera said he believed the weather was a contributory factor to the fatal incident.

Mr Cashera, who was “in a state of shock” after the collision, pointed out that the driver of the other tram had not seen anyone on the track either — which indicated how bad the weather was.

Luas driver Philip Cashera at Dublin District Coroner's Court

Luas driver Philip Cashera at Dublin District Coroner's Court© Colin Keegan

The inquest heard evidence that the fatal accident occurred on a section of track where drivers would not expect to see pedestrians, as access was restricted by hedges and fences.

A pathologist who conducted a post-mortem on Mr Oloo-Omee’s body said he had suffered multiple fractures to his body, including his skull and both legs, as well as severe damage to his brain, liver and heart.

Dr Kevin O’Hare said death would have been “instantaneous” — although there were no crush injuries, which indicated the tram had not driven over the victim.

Toxicology reports showed Mr Oloo-Omee had a blood-alcohol concentration of 400mg per 100ml — eight times the legal drink-driving limit — while there was also evidence of cocaine consumption.

Dr O’Hare said the quantity of alcohol consumed by the victim had the potential to “cause death by itself” and meant he might have already been unconscious before he was struck by the tram.

Dr Gallagher explained she was taking the difficult decision to show CCTV footage from the two Luas trams, which captured Mr Oloo-Omee in a slumped position on the track, to highlight how difficult it was to see him on that night.

The inquest also heard evidence that Mr Oloo-Omee was wearing a black jacket and jeans on the night.

Transdev’s head of health and safety, Eoin Kennedy, told the hearing that the company had responsibility for lighting only at Luas stops and park-and-ride facilities, with public lighting along the routes of the Red and Green lines the responsibility of the relevant local authority.

The coroner noted a formal investigation into the fatal incident had made no safety recommendations and had found there was no issue with either the driver or the infrastructure of the Luas.

The jury of five women and one man returned a verdict of death by misadventure. They also recommended that all public lighting along the Luas network should be reviewed with local authorities, with particular attention given to “poorly lit areas”.

The jury proposed a similar review be conducted of all access points to Luas tracks.


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