Tram Driver Trial Begins

The trial of a Luas driver, charged with crashing his tram into a bus on O’Connell Street, has started today.

39-year-old Oriyomi Emmanuel of Jamestown Park, Ratoath, Co Meath, has pleaded not guilty under the Railway Safety Act to the unsafe operation of a tram at the junction of Middle Abbey Street and O’Connell Street on September 16th, 2009.

The bus driver, Paul Bonney, has told the court that he had a green light to go through the junction when the Luas hit him. He also gave evidence that after the crash the front of the Luas was inside the bus, at the wheelchair seating area.

A Garda witness also said the nose of the tram had penetrated the bus by “two to three feet” and that two women were trapped underneath.

Recalling the events Mr Bonney told the prosecutor, Garnet Orange, that he was driving the No 16 bus south on O’Connell Street and was having an uneventful journey until he reached the Abbey Street junction. He had “plenty of passengers” and most of them were seated.

He drove the bus in a “normal, professional manner” at 25-30km/h and drove through the Abbey Street junction as he “had a green light”. He saw the Luas coming towards the cab of the bus and accelerated forward to try and get out of the way.

Garda Sgt Brian Cullen said when he got to the scene he saw the “walking wounded” being treated by emergency services. The Luas had “impaled” the bus by two to three feet; rescue workers were tending to two women trapped under its nose.

George Doyle was driving a tram in the opposite direction and was waiting at the lights at the other end of the junction. He said he was stopped there for about 30 seconds and that the junction “looked clear to me”, when he saw the other tram begin to move.

Mr Doyle said he did not have a go signal for his tram and agreed with Mr Orange that most of the time both trams at a junction get a go signal at the same time. However, he added that it was “not unusual” for only one to get the signal.

The trial continues before Judge Mary Ellen Ring and a jury of eight men and four women.


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