‘Sensitive and loving’ cancer survivor struck by HGV after horror double crash
A “sensitive and loving” cancer survivor died after he was struck by a truck on the A55 in a horrific double crash. Ciaran Michael Murray, 35, drove into a road sign at high speed at Valley, Anglesey while not wearing a seatbelt and was then hit by an HGV after several witnesses saw him “crawling” across the carriageway into the path of oncoming traffic, an inquest in Caernarfon heard. It is unknown whether Mr Murray was thrown from his Vauxhall Corsa or whether he climbed out himself after the first collision which took place just before 11pm on August, 6, 2020.
: Covid patient, 83, may have died after oxygen to mask became ‘disconnected’, inquest hears That first impact left Mr Murray’s car pointing in the opposite direction with the engine hanging off, several of the windows smashed and the roof crushed inwards. Several of the witnesses pulled over in an attempt to help Mr Murray but sadly a HGV being driven by Eamon Mallon collided with his body before anything could be done to help him, the hearing was told.
Collisions expert Emma Dainty said that Mr Mallon had “insufficient time and distance to avoid the collision” after breaking and changing lanes. Ms Dainty said: “Mr Murray wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and there was a bullseye crack in windscreen, potentially consistent with a head injury.
“He was either thrown from vehicle or climbed out. “There is no evidence to suggest that he tried to brake or avoid the collision with the road sign.
“Witnesses say they saw him crawl across the road on hands and knees. “He may have been disorientated and confused and thought he was crawling towards safety as his car was facing other way. “Mr Mallon had insufficient time and distance to avoid the collision – he was travelling at 57mph, he braked and he changed lanes.
“For unknown reasons Mr Murray did not react appropriately to the sign and then crawled along the carriageway, both collisions were therefore avoidable.” Dr Mark Atkinson carried out the postmortem on Mr Murray.
Why journalists cover inquests and why it’s crucial that we do
Reporting on an inquest can be one of the hardest types of stories a journalist can write. More often than not, they are emotionally charged proceedings attended by grief-stricken people who are desperate for answers.
Sometimes, inquests can seem quite clinical due to a coroner’s need to remain impartial and level-headed so that they can draw a conclusion from desperately sad events. As painful as these proceedings are for those who have lost a loved one, the lessons that can be learned from inquests can go a long way to saving others’ lives. Families are often surprised – and sometimes angry – when they see a reporter in attendance.
Understandably they worry the nature of their loved one’s death will be sensationalised and that a news story will forever tarnish their memory. Responsible and ethically minded journalists will do what they can to report inquests sensitively, while not shying away from the often upsetting facts. It is vital that the public don’t forget that inquests are a type of judicial inquiry; they are after all held in a coroner’s court.
The press has a legal right to attend inquests and has a responsibility to report on them as part of their duty to uphold the principle of ‘open justice’. But in doing so journalists must follow the guidance provided by the Independent Press Standards Organistion and set out in Editors’ Code of Conduct.
It’s a journalist’s duty to make sure the public understands the reasons why someone has died and to make sure their deaths are not kept secret. An inquest report can also clear up any rumours or suspicion surrounding a person’s death. But most importantly of all, an inquest report can draw attention to circumstances which may stop further deaths from happening.
Inquests are not criminal courts – there is no prosecution or defence – they are fact-finding tribunals which seek to answer four key questions:
- Who is the person who died?
- Where did they die?
- When did they die?
- How did they die?
They do not apportion blame. Once these questions are answered a coroner will be able to record a conclusion. The wider lessons that can be learned from an inquest can have far-reaching consequences – but if journalists do not attend them how can the public be made aware?
The harsh reality is they can’t. Coroners often do not publish the results of an inquest. Should journalists shy away from attending inquests then an entire arm of the judicial system – and numerous others who need to answer vital questions – is not held to account.
Inquests can often prompt a wider discussion on serious issues, the most recent of these being mental health and suicide. Editors actively ask and encourage reporters to speak to the family and friends of a person who is the subject of an inquest. Their contributions help us create a clearer picture of the person who died and also provides the opportunity to pay tribute to their loved one.
Often families do not wish to speak to the press and of course that decision has to be respected. However, as has been seen by many brilliant campaigns run by newspapers and websites up and down the country, the input of a person’s family and friends can make all the difference in helping to save others. Without the attendance of the press at inquests questions will remain unanswered, debates unargued and lives lost.
He described Mr Murray’s injuries as being “extensive” and he was unable to tell which injuries Mr Murray sustained in the first and second collision. Dr Atkinson said: “Mr Murray sustained extensive injuries compatible with being run over by a vehicle. “He had a massive head injury – the injuries were so massive in the second collision that it was impossible to deduce what happened in the first collision from my examination.
“From what I have heard here today it sounds like the first was a high speed impact into the sign and there was no evidence that he was wearing seatbelt. “It is therefore inevitable that he sustained severe injuries in the first collision to the point where he was barely surviving rather than making decisions. “The second impact was destructive.”
Delivering a narrative conclusion, acting senior coroner Katie Sutherland, said: “Mr Murray was driving a black Vauxhall Corsa and was involved in two collisions in very close proximity.
“He was either thrown or made his way out of the vehicle and it is not known what, if any, significant injuries he sustained in the first collision. “He then crawled across the carriageway in to the path of an oncoming HGV, causing fatal injuries. “Dr Atkinson said it was not possible to determine what injuries he sustained in the first collision but the speed and damage caused to the vehicle in the first collision would suggest that he sustained serious injuries.
“There is no evidence of any braking and no suggestion that he tried to avoid the sign.” She concluded that he died as a result of multiple injuries sustained in both collisions. “He will have sustained significant injuries in the first collision and it is not known if these injuries would have impacted on his cognitive function.
“He did die as a result of his own actions but it is likely that his cognitive functions were severely affected. “I cannot say whether he intended death to be the consequence of his actions or whether he was disorientated and therefore deliver a narrative conclusion,” she said During the inquest, a statement was read out by Mr Murray’s father, Declan Murray, describing him as a “sensitive and loving” man who would “never see anyone go without.”
Mr Murray Snr said: “Ciaran had a history of Hodgkins Lymphoma, but had been five years clear. “He also suffered from viral meningitis in the winter of 2014 but never complained about anything. “He was a good friend, wanted to help everyone and would never see anyone go without.
“He was sensitive and loving and is dearly missed by us all.”
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