A drunk-driver who killed two women after a drink and drugs binge said he would do anything to take back what he did.
Pals Kiara Baird, aged 19, and Maria Wallis, aged 38, died when Dermot Dowd lost control of his car outside Ballybofey in Co Donegal on September 21st, 2016.
Dowd initially tried to claim that Ms Wallis, a mother-of-three, was driving the Citroën C3 car which crashed at Glenfin Road.
The 24-year-old later admitted drinking for hours in a local bar with the two women before getting behind the wheel.
Ms Baird died at the scene while Ms Wallis died a short time later in hospital after both had been thrown out of the car during the horrific crash.
Dowd pleaded guilty before Letterkenny Circuit Court to dangerous driving causing death and last February he was jailed to five years in prison and banned from driving for fifteen years by Judge John Aylmer.
He again appeared at Letterkenny Courthouse today to face the relatives of the dead women during the victims’ inquests.
The Dubliner, with an address at Donegal Road, Ballybofey, told how he met Maria and Kiara at Bonner’s Bar in Ballybofey earlier that morning.
Both women were drinking and he said he drank a number of pints, as well as vodka and whiskey as well as having some weed and that everyone was in good form.
They decided to go to Maria’s house and the women asked Dowd to drive Maria’s Citreon car as they did not want to.
They called into the local Centra Supermarket where they purchased two crates of Budweiser beer.
Dowd said that none of the three of them were wearing seatbelts while in the car.
He then said he slowed up towards a bend while on the way to Maria’s house but the car started to slide and then he suddenly heard a bang.
He said he looked around and the women were gone and that it all happened so fast.
He added, “I’m sorry and I would do anything to change what happened.”
The day on which the women were killed was the official ‘European Day Without a Road Death’, an initiative organised by TISPOL, the Traffic Police network in Europe, and its aim is that nobody would die on the roads of Europe on that day.
Witness Karl Gallen said he was working in the area at the time and saw a small blue car ‘shot straight out’ in front of him in Ballybofey.
“I had to slam on the brakes so not to hit him. I was very lucky he didn’t hit me,” said Mr Gallen.
Ms Lou Ann Glacken said she had just collected her daughter Tory from St Columba’s School just after 4pm and was driving home.
She said she saw a small blue car close to her house and it was “like a rocket.”
Bot herself and her daughter took in a sharp breath as they realised the car was not going to take a bend in the road.
“I was scared for myself and Tory. It did not make the corner and it collided with either a pole or a trailer. The car was airborne, it was nearly the height of a trailer. It was spinning in the air and I could see debris flying off it. The car then went out of sight. It was like it was blown up,” she said.
She said she was speechless but eventually managed to tell her sist-in-law to call the emergency services.
Garda Michelle Kelly said she had been on patrol in the area at the time of the crash and was flagged down by another driver to say there had been a crash
She outlined the horrific carnage which she came across when she arrived on the scene of the crash.
She said she saw two young women lying on the ground parallel to eachother and that a man was keeling down holding one of the women.
She said Kiara Baird had a substantial amount of blood coming from her nose and was not breathing. Gardai delivered CPR as well as chest compressions and they eventually got a defibrillator but did not deliver a shock.
She was eventually pronounced dd at the scene a short time later.
Maria Wallis was then taken from the scene by ambulance but was announced dead at Letterkenny University Hospital at 5.50pm despite the best efforts of consultant Gerry Lane and his medical team.
Garda Forensic Collision Investigator, Gerry McCauley, said he could not give an exact speed the car was traveling at but confirmed it was “considerably over the speed limit.”
He revealed that the car hit a lamppost and was then thrown 109 feet into the layby of a nearby yard.
Earlier Garda evidence revealed how the car in which the three were in was in a good serviceable pre-accident condition.
A pathology report on Ms Wallis said death was due to head injuries as a result of a road traffic accident.
Meanwhile, a pathology report on Ms Baird showed that she also died as a result of head injuries as a result of a road traffic accident.
The jury of three women and seven men found the cause of both women’s deaths was due to a head injury as a result of a road traffic collision and the verdict was per the verdict in the previous circuit court case.
Coroner Dr Denis McCauley offered his sympathy to both families and said it was simply “an awful tragedy.”
The mother of the late Kiara Baird, Tracey Baird addressed the court and said she wanted to thank Mr Dowd for staying with her daughter after the accident.
“After the accident, there was a lot of horrible rumours especially about Mr Dowd and today we got a few answers. Thank you for that. We now realise he helped Kiara in her last hours and we want to thank him for holding her and being there,” she said.