Motorcyclist killed on way home from working at children’s theatre production

August 30, 2018

A leading stage technician and musician was killed when his motorbike was struck by a car which had been sent into a tailspin after being hit by another car being driven by an 81-year-old pensioner.

An inquest into the death of Arthur ‘Lenny’ Nelson heard how he had just finished working at a children’s Halloween theatre production when the tragedy happened.

Mr Nelson, 58, a nephew of the late showbusiness legend Billy Barry, suffered multiple injuries and died instantly following the collision at Lisfannon, Burt, Co Donegal in October 2014.

Pensioner Moira Edwards, of Burt, previously pleaded guilty to careless driving causing the death of Mr Nelson.

She was fined €1,000 and banned from driving for four years at Falcarragh District Court.

The inquest into the death of Mr Nelson, of Cullion Road, Letterkenny, heard from several witnesses who came across the horrific crash.

The late Lenny Nelson. RIP

The coroner’s court was told that Mrs Edwards, had been visiting a neighbour on the night of the accident.

She was emerging from the woman’s farmhouse near Lisfannon, Burt, and was turning right on to the main road to drive home after 10pm.

A BMW car collided with the front of Mrs Edwards’ emerging car and it went into a tailspin, hitting an oncoming motorcycle being driven by Mr Nelson, of Cullion Road, Letterkenny who was returning from working at the Playhouse Theatre in Derry.

The accident and emergency services arrived at the scene within minutes.

Garda Sgt Niall Cody told how he and others tried to resuscitate Mr Nelson, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

It had been raining earlier that evening on what was described as a “dirty night.”

Garda PSV inspectors examined all three vehicles involved in the crash and all three were found to be in good pre-accident condition.

Fiona Doherty was driving from Derry to Burt with her son and was one of the first people on the scene.

She felt a slight pulse from Mr Nelson and said he still felt warm but a short time later she felt his pulse again but it was gone.

She had tried to take his motorbike helmet off twice but it would not come off.

He was wearing motorbike leathers and said she remembered them being of a dark colour.

Mrs Moira Edwards was not in court because of ill health but was represented by her two sons, Robert and Leslie.

In her statement to Gardai, she said did not remember seeing any vehicles coming from the direction of Derry and, after she looked left and right, all she remembered was hearing a bang.

The driver of the BMW, Conor Gallagher, from Derry, said he had been driving at around 90kmh and was coming around a bend when a car emerged onto the road and he tried to swerve to avoid it.

The victim’s wife, Ms Máire Ní Threasaigh, had told a previous court how her life had changed utterly since her husband’s death.

She that one of the most painful things she went through was covering the hands of Mr Nelson – who played several musical instruments – at his wake because they had been so badly disfigured from the crash.

The victim’s brother Barry gave evidence of formally identifying his brother at the morgue at Letterkenny University Hospital.

However, he asked coroner Dr Denis McCauley why he was not informed of his brother’s death by Garda until 8am the following morning.

Solicitor for Mrs Edwards, Mr Ciaran Mac Lochlainn, said he noted that it was “remarkable” that Donegal County Council has changed the road layout of the area in recent weeks.

He said that at the time of the crash, a broken yellow line was just two feet out from the driveway from which Mrs Edwards had emerged onto the main road.

That broken yellow line was now up to ten feet from the driveway entrance which now allowed cars to edge out in a much safer manner.

Pathologist Dr Katriona Dillon gave a detailed account of Mr Nelson’s injuries which included a fracture of his spinal chord.

She said his death would have been instantaneous and said the cause of death was due to multiple injuries consistent with an involvement in a road traffic accident.

The seven-person jury found that death was due to injuries sustained in a road traffic accident.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said a letter had been submitted to the court by Mr Nelson’s children thanking all those who had helped their father.

He said “Incidents like this are always so tragic and they can happen in the blink of an eye. My condolences go to someone who had just finished working with a number of children and this terrible thing happened.”