A FARMER whose unlit trailer suffered a puncture at the side of the road has gone on trial before a jury accused of causing death by dangerous driving.
Adrian McCool, from Old Armiran, Stranorlar, pleaded not guilty when he appeared at Letterkenny Circuit Court.
He is accused of causing the death of 53-year-old John O’Donnell in a road traffic collision in the townland of Cappry, outside Ballybofey on November 13th, 2013.
Mr McCool pleaded guilty to three road traffic offences relating to the same incident including failing to have lights on a sheep trailer on the night of the crash.
The court heard how Mr McCool had pulled over on the road around 7.35pm that night after a tyre on the trailer suffered a puncture.
He had been calling the trailer’s owner to ask about a spare wheel when the incident happened.
Patricia McLaughlin for the DPP told the jury before Judge John O’Hagan that Mr O’Donnell was driving on the same side of the road where Mr McCool had parked his vehicle and trailer.
The state would argue that Mr O’Donnell couldn’t see the trailer because it had no lights on it, was forced to take evasive action and crashed into an oncoming jeep being driven by another local farmer Terry Temple.
Mr O’Donnell died at the scene, Mr Temple was injured and Mr O’Donnell’s nephew Dylan McGlynn was also hurt.
Mr McGlynn, now 18 sobbed as he told the court about what happened on the night of the crash. A member of court staff gave him a tissue as he tried to recall the evening of the crash.
The teenager said it was a dark winter’s night. There had been thunder and ligtning earlier and he and his uncle John were on their way to Mr O’Donnell’s native Castlederg to feed cattle when the incident happened.
“I saw a jeep coming in the other direction. We didn’t see the trailer until the last minute,” he said.
“I remember the wing mirror coming off and there was a bang.”
He was asked what his uncle had done.
“He put his arm across in front of me,” said Mr McGlynn.
When the van came to a halt, he said he tried to speak to his uncle but didn’t get a response.
He said Mr McCool came over to the van and told him to go and get help. The teenager said neither he nor Mr O’Donnell were wearing seatbelts.
The driver of the oncoming jeep, farmer Terry Temple, said Mr O’Donnell’s VW Caddy had careered into his driver’s door.
He said he had tried to avoid Mr O’Donnell’s van but couldn’t.
Mr Temple said Mr O’Donnell and Mr McCool were friends who were known to each other and would have worked with each other in the past.
He told defence barrister Damian Crawford that Mr McCool had gone to help Mr O’Donnell, performing CPR until the ambulance came.
Earlier Garda Damian Mulkearns described the appalling weather conditions on the night of the crash.
He said he had been on patrol between Killea and Bridgend when he got a call to attend the scene.
Garda Mulkearns said there was heavy rain, so much so that he had turned off the patrol car’s blue emergency lights as the reflection was making driving difficult.
The trial continues today.