Dart-hit pensioner made ‘perilous decision’ to walk along train tracks after missing station, inquest hears

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A pensioner suffered fatal injuries after being hit by a Dart train while walking along the tracks between Pearse and Tara Street stations on New Years Day in 2021, an inquest has heard.

Dublin District Coroner’s Court sitting heard CCTV footage captured Louis Doyle (68), a single man from Mercer House, Mercer Street Upper, Dublin, walking from the platform onto the track after being got off a Dart at Tara Street at 7:55 p.m.

Garda Fiona Deely, who led the inquiry into Mr Doyle’s death, said it appeared the victim had missed his stop at Pearse and made ‘a perilous decision’ to walk back along the track towards from Pearse, where he was known to sometimes sleep in the resort.

A post-mortem report, which revealed that Mr Doyle died of multiple broken bones and severe damage to several organs, also revealed high levels of alcohol in his body.

The inquest heard that the stretch of track between the two stations was dangerous as there is a very limited area to stand on safely to avoid any passing trains.

The fatal incident happened where the lane was narrowest on a railway bridge over Pearse Street.

The inquest heard the railway line between Pearse and Tara Street was closed after train conductor David Walsh reported seeing what he thought was a body near the track between the two stations shortly after 9:39 p.m.

Iarnród Éireann station controller Philip Cox described finding a body “curled up like a ball” which appeared to have suffered a number of injuries.

Mr Cox said it was such a dangerous stretch of track that the line always had to be closed between the two stations if staff had to work in the area.

He said “Keep off Tracks” signs had also been posted on the Pearse and Tara Street platforms to warn passengers of the danger.

Garda Daniel McCarthy, a crime scene investigator, said a piece of flesh or human tissue was later discovered on the first train which traveled along the northbound line after Mr Doyle had was seen returning to Pearse.

The Dart’s driver, Leon Kirby, testified that he had noticed “nothing out of the ordinary” on any service he had operated that evening.

Coroner Clare Keane was told CCTV footage of the train appeared to capture a ‘silhouette’ of someone standing next to the train and trying to get to safety from the oncoming Dart.

Gda McCarthy said the area was poorly lit and it would have been extremely difficult for a train driver to see anyone standing on the side of the track.

He said the railway line between the two stations was also treacherously icy that evening as there were sub-zero temperatures.

In a statement, a friend of the deceased, Stephen Hyland, said he met Mr Doyle at Glasthule Dart station earlier that evening and they drank a bottle and a naggin of vodka together in the space an hour and a half.

Mr Hyland said his friend suffered a serious cut to the head after falling as they were returning to Dún Laoghaire station.

He remembers asking two teenagers who helped Mr. Doyle to his feet to keep an eye on him on the Dart.

Mr Hyland said he received three calls from his friend between 7.35pm and 7.55pm in which Mr Doyle said he did not know where he was because he had passed out from alcohol .

The victim’s brother, David Doyle, testified that he positively identified his brother’s body to gardaí.

Mr Doyle said he had not seen his brother for several years before his death as he had a distant relationship with his family due to “drinking problems”.

A jury of four men and two women returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

Ms Keane said it was a heartbreaking case which consisted of ‘a deadly combination of events’.

The coroner said the fatal incident happened at a narrow point in the line in slippery, icy and dark conditions, while Mr Doyle’s judgment may have been seriously impaired by his level of intoxication as well only by the head injury he had suffered a few hours earlier. .

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