Girl (13) killed by blow from wing-mirror of van, inquest told

Aisling Kennedy, from Co Waterford, was struck by wing-mirror of passing vehicle having just alighted from a school bus

A Co Waterford girl who died after suffering a glancing blow from a van on her way home from school was “very, very unfortunate” to sustain such severe injuries, a coroner has said.

Aisling Kennedy (13), of Glasha, Ballymacarby, was crossing a road near her home having just alighted from a schoolbus when she was struck by the van’s wing-mirror on April 7th, 2022. The first-year pupil at Presentation Secondary School, Clonmel died from her injuries at Temple Street hospital in Dublin on July 12th, 2022.

Dr Cróna Gallagher told Dublin District Coroner’s Court that the collision was “very, very unfortunate” and that “on another occasion, [Aisling] might have been fine”. She returned a verdict of accidental death at the conclusion of the inquest, with the cause of death recorded as a traumatic brain injury.

The teenager was travelling home on a bus driven by John O’Brien before the incident. Mr O’Brien told the inquest he dropped Aisling off at about 4.30pm at a crossroads, on a straight section of the R671.


The inquest heard Aisling emerged from a “blind spot” behind another vehicle before the collision and there was no opportunity for the driver of the Ford Transit van, John Fahy, to react.

Mr Fahy told the inquest he saw the stationary bus facing him as he approached the crossroads on his way home from working in Dungarvan. As he approached, he saw a number of cars overtaking the bus and he reduced the speed of his van.

As he came closer to the bus, he saw it move off again. He then saw a girl appear near to the driver-side wing mirror, and heard a bang, he said. He stopped his van immediately and then saw the girl lying on the ground.

“It all happened so fast,” he said.

Jason Abraham, an employee of Mr Fahy’s who was travelling in the van, called 999. Another employee in the van, Mark Kelly, tended to the girl. He told the inquest he caught a “glancing look” at the teenager as the collision occurred.

Mary Mulcahy said she saw Aisling standing to the left of the schoolbus after alighting, according to a deposition provided to the court. Ms Mulcahy came to a stop behind the schoolbus before it pulled off – she said the teenager must have passed behind her car before being struck by the van.

Linda Skehan, a member of the public who stopped to assist the girl, detected a pulse while tending to Aisling. She and Mr Kelly covered her in blankets and coats while waiting for medical assistance, the inquest heard.

Parademics, gardaí, an ambulance and helicopter all attended the scene. Garda Conor O’Donovan agreed it was apparent from an early stage that the incident was a serious one.

Following his investigation, Garda O’Donovan said it appeared the teenager had emerged from a “blind spot” to cross the road. He agreed there was no opportunity for Mr Fahy to react.

The scene of the incident was preserved overnight. Garda Maurice Mahon, a forensic collision investigator, told the inquest conditions were bright and dry when the incident occurred.

He agreed with Dr Gallagher that Aisling had stepped out on to the road and “presumably” did not see Mr Fahy’s vehicle before the “very, very unfortunate” incident. There were no other contributing factors, the coroner said.

Aisling was airlifted to hospital to be treated for her injuries. John Caird, a consultant neurosurgeon at Temple Street, said she suffered a “serious” brain haemorrhage in the collision. She was placed in a medically induced coma in the hospital’s intensive care unit.

Her condition did not improve, and she died peacefully in the presence of her family on July 12th.

Dr Gallagher sympathised with Aisling’s parents, noting that she was a young girl becoming independent and starting her life in secondary school before the collision occurred.

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher

Fiachra Gallagher is an Irish Times journalist