Judge criticises driver (84) who didn’t realise he’d hit, injured cyclist

Posted on: November 9th, 2018

A judge has expressed concern at elderly drivers staying on the roads and becoming involved in crashes after a cyclist was very badly injured.


A cyclist injured in a crash 2½ years ago has today settled her action for damages before the High Court.

And in a criminal trial over the incident a judge questioned the motorist involved about his suitability to be behind the wheel aged 84 years after he hit a cyclist without realising it.

The injured cyclist, who took part in major adventure races before the crash, suffered severe head injuries, among others, in the crash.

However, the driver continued on his way and only realised what had happened when he got home and his son spotted damage to the car.

Denis O’Driscoll, Cashelmore, Bandon, Co Cork, had pleaded guilty to careless driving causing serious bodily harm to cyclist Olivia Walsh.

Ms Walsh was taken from the scene and brought to Cork University Hospital. She suffered cerebral haemorrhages, skull fractures, facial injuries and fractures to her left arm and collar bone.

Before the crash she had completed a 230km running race across the Amazon and had planned to take in adventure races in Scandinavia.

The 84-year-old driver was convicted at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. He was given a 12-month suspended sentence and banned from driving for 10 years.

Ms Walsh has now also settled her High Court case for damages arising from the crash on June 2nd, 2016. She had previously requested that Mr O’Driscoll not be sent to prison.

Judge Sean O’Donnabhain was critical of Mr O’Driscoll when sentencing, saying it was a cause of concern he could hit a cyclist and not realise it.

The judge added it was questionable whether he should have been driving at all.

“I don’t care whether he was certified to drive,” he said in court, adding an issue was now arising about older drivers being involved in road traffic crashes.

And, the judge said, this was a problem “that will increase” in the years ahead. The crash happened at Ballinascarthy on the main Bandon to Clonakilty Road 2½ years ago.

Mr O’Driscoll got home in his car and when his son saw the damage they retraced the route he had taken.

It was only then that they came across the crash scene where Ms Walsh was badly injured that Mr O’Driscoll realised he had hit her.

He contacted the Garda and cooperated fully with the investigation. He told the gardai he believed a fly got into his eye causing a distraction.

In the High Court today 40-year-old Ms Walsh settled her case on a confidential basis. She contended Mr O’Driscoll had driven too fast and failed to look out; indeed, failed to see her on her bike in time, or at all.