A 41-year-old man will begin a 15-month jail term next year following a fatal road crash near Ballinlough in west Roscommon.
Ivan Ledwith, of Drumure, Newtownforbes Co. Longford, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing the death of school teacher Anne Grogan in January 2019.
Roscommon Circuit Court heard that the mother-of-three was driving towards Ballinlough shortly before 10am on Friday the 11th of January 2019 when the fatal crash occurred. An articulated lorry, driven by Mr Ledwith, was travelling west along the N60 when it collided with a stationary ESB van stopped behind another vehicle at a junction outside the village.
The impact pushed the van onto the other side of the road and into the path of Mrs. Grogan’s oncoming Ford Mondeo. The driver of the van, Peter Guckian, sustained a C2 fracture, serious head injury and multiple lacerations and Mrs Grogan, whose three-month-old baby girl was in the car at the time of the incident, suffered critical injuries, including multiple fractures and swelling to the brain.
The Granlahan native was placed on a life support machine in hospital, but she passed away shortly before midnight on the 14th of January; one week before her 35th birthday. Weather conditions at the time of the crash were described as being foggy, however, the court heard that analysis from the truck’s tachograph showed Mr Ledwith had been travelling at 90 kilometers per hour in a 60 kilometers zone on the approach to the point of impact.
Giving direct evidence, the 41-year-old said there isn’t a day goes by that he doesn’t think of what happened and he wished he could change what occurred. He also apologised to the Grogan and Guckian families. The father of three also took full responsibility for what had happened and his barrister outlined that a traffic calming measure precluded the lorry driver’s option to veer to the left and avoid the collision. Judge Ken Connolly also heard that the accused was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder following the crash.
A victim impact statement prepared by Anne Grogan’s husband, Kieran, described her as a young vibrant woman who was the best wife, mother, friend and a great teacher to her students. Their 3-month-old daughter, who was uninjured in the crash, was Christened in ICU some days later so her mother could be present.
Mrs. Grogan was an organ donor and in the impact statement, her husband called for more road safety television adverts in order to prevent collisions. Judge Ken Connolly said it was an utterly tragic incident which changed the lives of all three families and he was satisfied the lorry driver had shown genuine remorse.
However, he told the court he couldn’t avoid a custodial sentence due to the aggravating factor of speed on approach to the point of impact. Judge Connolly imposed an 18-month sentence for dangerous driving causing death which was suspended for nine months, while Mr Ledwith was also sentenced to a one-year sentence with six months suspended on the count of dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm to Mr Guickian. Both sentences are to run concurrently with the local lorry driver also disqualified from driving for 7 years.
His sentence is due to begin in January.