An expert witness has told Londonderry Coroners’ Court that the road collision in the city which resulted in the death of a 21-year-old pedestrian could not have been avoided.
Forensic officer David Nicholson said due to the very short driver response times involved in the circumstances which led to the death of Ciaran Feeney on July 13 last year, the driver of the taxi involved in the fatal accident could not have avoided the impact.
Mr Nicholson estimated the driver response time to be 2.2 seconds.
The accident happened at Glenshane Road close to the junction of Drumahoe Road.
Despite medical intervention at the scene, Mr Feeney was later pronounced dead at Altnagelvin Hospital.
In his findings, Coroner Brian Sherrard said that Mr Feeney – from Tamnaherin Road, Eglinton, Londonderry – had been returning from a night out in Londonderry when he sustained fatal multiple injuries as a result of being struck by a Vauxhall Vectra car travelling in the inside lane of the Glenshane Road in the direction of Londonderry.
He noted that it had not been possible to conclude why or how Mr Feeney came to be on the road, only that he had been seen walking along the carriageway that night and was highly intoxicated at the time.
His blood alcohol reading was 248mg per 100ml of blood, over three times the legal limit, which would have caused uncoordination and unsteadiness.
Prior to the accident, the only other sightings of Mr Feeney that night were by police at Guildhall Square and later, when a nurse in the car park at Altnagelvin Hospital saw Mr Feeney pass on foot, heading in the direction of Glenshane Road.
A taxi driver leaving the city gave evidence that he saw Mr Feeney in the middle of the road with the hood of his hoodie pulled up, and he appeared to have his head down as if he was looking down at a mobile telephone.
Police who later examined the scene found Mr Feeney’s mobile phone. It was broken and in pieces on the road.
The coroner said he was not committing his findings to print until the police had contacted and taken a statement from the front-seat passenger of the taxi which was leaving the city and came upon the accident.