Deaths of mum and daughters in crash an ‘unspeakable’ tragedy, says coroner

A CORONER has described the deaths of a Raphoe mum and her two daughters on a collision in Mayo earlier this year as an “unspeakable” tragedy.

Una Bowden (47) and her two daughters Ciara (14) and 10-year-old Saoirse died in a collision between their car and an oil tanker on the main N17 outside Claremorris, county Mayo, on March 26.

The family had been living in Galway.


The inquests into their deaths were opened on Monday by Mayo coroner, Pat O’Connor who offered his “deepest and sincere” condolences to David Bowden, husband to Una and father of Ciara and Saoirse.

“What can one say to adequately describe the loss and devastation of Mr Bowden on the passing of his wife and children?

“It is unspeakable,” reports the Irish Independent.

Mr Bowden had been working in Africa when he was told about the tragic deaths of his wife and daughters.

Mr O’Connor said the scale of the tragedy saw the “complete annihilation” of Mr Bowden’s family – three people in the prime of their lives.

He said the road where the tragedy happened, the N17, was one of two roads in Mayo which have been the scene of a significant number of tragedies.

He appealed to An Garda Síochána, and to Tom Gilligan, Mayo County Council, to bring their foremost attention to the matter.


Mr O’Connor said the purpose of opening the inquest into deaths of the Bowden family was to assist David Bowden in formal matters.

He said the first hearing would deal only with identification and the cause of death of Una and her daughters, and would be adjourned pending the outcome of a garda investigation.

Dr Fadel Bennani, Consultant Pathologist at Mayo University Hospital, said Una, Ciara and Saoirse were identified through DNA analysis.

He said all three victims died due to severe injuries sustained in the traffic accident.

A toxicology screening showed no traces of alcohol or intoxicants in Una Bowden’s system, the inquest was told.

Mr O’Connor thanked Dr Bennani and all his staff at the mortuary in Mayo University Hospital for their professionalism and dedication.

He also paid tribute to gardaí and the emergency services who attended the scene, and those gardaí who are still investigating the tragedy.

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