A car that killed a young father from Co Donegal was equipped with another safety buckle to stop the car’s seat alarm from sounding.
ardaí also found an empty bottle of vodka in the black Audi that crashed into John “Rustard” McLaughlin, who died after he suffered horrific injuries on the evening of February 20, 2017.
The popular accountant, who was 38, traveled to Malin in Co Donegal just after the age of 18, where he helped with underage training.
Some witnesses at the inquest outlined the details of the heartbreaking moments after the second car collision at Strand Head.
Witness Sally Gorman, who was first on the scene, said she tried to comfort the injured man and held his head until the fire services arrived.
She said she noticed there were two baby seats in the back of the car but could not see anyone else in the car.
Ms Gorman said that when the fire service arrived and asked her to free John’s head so they could cut him off the vehicle, she felt like she was leaving John.
Guard Eamon Ward told the inquest how he arrived on the scene and realized it was Mr McLaughlin who was in the Kia Rio car and lived in Greencastle but originally from Malin, a man he had known all his life.
An emotional Guard Ward shed tears as he recounted not having much hope for John as he realized the extent of his injuries.
He also recounted how he found the other car in the crash, a black Audi, in a nearby drain.
He immediately knew that the car had just been acquired by Aaron McColgan, and the wheels on the car were replaced with different wheels, with the original wheels still in the rear.
He also revealed how an empty bottle of vodka was also resting in the car.
He radioed other members to pay attention to Mr McColgan, who was later captured by guards about 500 yards from the scene.
A statement on behalf of local doctor Ken Devlin said he had attended the scene and recognized John, whom he had known all his life.
He recounted how his feet and legs were caught and that he was wedged between the steering wheel and the instrument panel and how he was not conscious or responsive.
Mr. McLaughlin was put in an ambulance where paramedics were working on him but Dr. Devlin’s statement recounted how he suffered a traumatic cardiac arrest and passed away.
He announced the death of Mr. McLaughlin at 19.41 and informed John’s parents who were on the scene.
Garda Aiden Mulvihill, an assistant PSV inspector, read the report on the two cars that were examined after the crash.
He said both cars were in working condition pre-accident but noted that the Audi car belonging to Mr McColgan had another seat belt in the driver’s seat rest area that did not belong to the car.
This was done, he said, to prevent the seat belt alarm from sounding.
Evidence from the pathologist said Mr McLaughlin suffered a number of fractures as well as internal injuries and that death was due to these injuries.
Garda Gerard McCauley, a forensic investigator, said it was clear from their investigation that the collision occurred on the side of the road being driven by the Kia Rio car.
He added that it was also clear that the Audi car was traveling faster than the Kia, but could not tell at what speed it was traveling.
Doctor Dr Denis McCauley said the finding of the inquest was that Mr McLaughlin had died from multiple injuries suffered in a car accident and that death had been caused by dangerous driving.
He expressed his condolences to Mr. McLaughlin’s family including his wife Margaret and his parents.
Dr McCauley also paid tribute to the emergency services and noted that in rural Ireland members of the emergency services often face the difficult task of witnessing scenes of tragedy when they often know the victims concerned, whom he said are very difficult.
Last November Aaron McColgan was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and banned from driving for 15 years at Letterkenny Circuit Court for dangerous driving causing Mr McLaughlin’s death.