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Tragic death Teenage cyclist killed in road collision was ‘flung in the air’, inquest hears

The Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that a car collided with Shane as he emerged from the entrance to the house at Oughterard, Straffan.

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Derek Duggan, father of Shane Duggan, described his son as a "brilliant character". Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Derek Duggan, father of Shane Duggan, described his son as a "brilliant character". Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Derek Duggan, father of Shane Duggan, described his son as a "brilliant character". Photo: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Friends of a teenage boy who died after his bicycle was hit by a car have told how he was “flung in the air” by the impact and that the sound of the crash was “like a gunshot”.

Shane Duggan (16), of Turnings, Straffan, Co Kildare, his twin brother Conor and a group of friends had been playing in the swimming pool of one of their friends’ houses when they decided to go to the nearby GAA club in Ardclough on their bicycles on the afternoon of July 3, 2018.

The Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that a car collided with Shane as he emerged from the entrance to the house at Oughterard, Straffan.

A Garda forensic expert told the court that the teenager was thrown onto a grass verge 23.6m from where the collision occurred.

One of the friends, Fintan O’Malley, said Shane was the first of the group to head out of the driveway of the house and had looked back just before going out on the road.

He described seeing his friend being “flung in the air” by the impact of the collision.

Another friend, Conor Halpenny, said the sound of the crash was “like a gunshot”.

Shane, a third year student at Castleknock College, died from the injuries he sustained in the collision four days later at Beaumont Hospital.

The inquest heard that Shane’s parents had donated their son’s organs which had helped two other patients after he suffered a brain stem death from severe head injuries sustained in the crash.

Fighting back tears, Shane’s father, Derek Duggan, described his son as “a brilliant character” who would always be part of their family.

The driver of the car, Linda Capuzzo, told the hearing that she collided with the teenager as he emerged at speed from the concealed entrance of the house.

She said she was travelling in a Ford Focus from her workplace at Grange Castle in Clondalkin when the collision occurred at around 4.40pm.

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She told the inquest how, on seeing the cyclist, she jammed on her brakes and swerved towards the middle of the road to try and avoid hitting him.

“I want to make it clear I had no opportunity to avoid the collision,” Ms Capuzzo said. “It all happened so quickly.”

The inquest heard there were no mechanical defects with either the car or the bicycle while Ms Capuzzo had passed a breathalyser test at the scene of the collision.

In response to queries from Shane’s parents, Derek and Mary Duggan, Garda witnesses said no mobile phone was seized as part of their investigation.

Garda Cliff Harding, a forensic collision investigator, said the point of impact was the front passenger side of the vehicle outside the entrance to the driveway.

He said the cyclist had been thrown onto a grass verge 23.6 metres from where the collision occurred.

Gda Harding estimated that Ms Capuzzo’s vehicle was travelling at 54-62km/h at the time of the collision on a road that had an 80km/h speed limit.

While the teenager’s family expressed concern that foliage on the side of the road approaching the entrance to the driveway was cut in the days after the collision, Garda Harding said he did not believe the foliage at the time of the crash was a contributory factor.

Sergeant Gerald Goode said CCTV footage at the entrance to the driveway had captured the collision which showed the deceased being catapulted in the air followed by his friends running to come to his assistance.

The coroner, Dr Crona Gallagher, noted that a file on the incident had been forwarded to the DPP who directed that no prosecution should arise in the case.

Based on the evidence, Dr Gallagher recorded a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner said she would also notify Kildare County Council “without prejudice” to review hedge cutting at the location of the collision.

“It was a very tragic accident to boys who were enjoying themselves on a summer day in a carefree way that young people do,” Dr Gallagher remarked.

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