Inquest hears US visitors to Co Wexford died while trying to do u-turn on busy road
AN inquest into the deaths of four American visitors to Co Wexford has heard how they died while trying to do a u-turn on a busy road.
Four verdicts of accidental death were recorded after a horrific crash claimed the lives of Doug and Lily Alexander, both 75, and their sons Douglas Jnr (52) and Stephen, (49) in December 2017.
The family lived in Oakland, near Chicago, and had been in the Republic following the death of Mrs Alexander's sister Winnie Keevey.
Doug Alexander Snr was born and raised in Sion Mills, Co Tyrone, while his wife Lily was from Limerick. Stephen Alexander, a father of two, was a decorated Bolingbrook Police Department officer.
The inquest heard they were travelling in convoy behind relatives, Oliver and Mary Prior, to attend a removal ceremony when their car was in collision with an articulated lorry on the Rosslare to Waterford road.
Mr Prior told the hearing that as he travelled in his car towards Cushinstown Church, his wife said she thought they had missed the turn for the church and he pulled into an entrance on the left side of the road.
He said the Alexander's car, driven by Douglas Jnr, also pulled in.
Mr Prior said he pulled out to head back towards New Ross as it was safe and that was the "last time I saw the Alexander family".
"I was still in first gear when I heard the bang. I knew the truck had hit the Alexanders as it could be no one else," he said.
Lorry driver Paul Caulfield, who is based in Armagh, said he was heading towards Rosslare to the ferry and as he "came down the hill I just remember a car shooting in front of me".
"I didn't get a fright as I could judge the car was safe enough from me to move on," he said.
"Then all I saw was lights and then we hit. I slammed the brakes and we went across the central reservation."
The car became trapped underneath the lorry, which had jack-knifed as it tried to avoid them. All four suffered "catastrophic injuries" and died at the scene.
In a statement from Doug Jnr and Stephen Alexander's wives, solicitor Caroline McLaughlin said the family were very grateful for the heroic efforts of the emergency services to save their loved ones.
Coroner Dr Sean Nixon said there was no evidence Mr Caulfield was responsible for the accident, describing it as a "very sad and tragic case".