In 2014, Stephen O’Donovan was outside fiddling with his car radio when a sound came out of nowhere that would change his life forever.
According to the Irish edition of the Independent, Stephen and wife Josephine’s 6-year-old son, Luke, was playing in their County Cork, Ireland, home before the loud bang occurred, or so the father thought. The boy had actually wandered outside to see if his friend was home across the street.
The noise Stephen heard was not a car door slamming as he thought, but it was the sound of his child being run over by a car.
The father described the horrifying moment when his son lost his life:
“I looked left and I saw something falling from the sky. It hit the footpath and rolled over twice. I realized that it was Luke.”
Edmond Walsh was the man who plowed the child over, killing him right before his father’s eyes.
The Independent reported that the 51-year-old driver claimed in a police statement:
“He ran out in front (of me) – there was nothing I could do.”
But there ended up being more to the story.
Walsh was taking 18 pills a day after suffering from traumatic brain injuries that happened in two separate falls. An officer said the driver had “pedantic and child-like” responses.
He took off from the scene of the accident as Luke’s father yelled for him to stop. Walsh then drove to his house and asked his own father what to do about running the child over.
The boy’s broken-hearted mother said:
“This man, I would say, has the mentality of a child. He ran home to tell his dad, he got home to tell his dad. But Luke didn’t get home to tell his.”
Walsh also had physical restrictions with movement in only one arm and one leg, forcing him to drive in a specially adapted vehicle.
Even with his medical conditions, he was still not required to have a re-test done for his driving license. It was reissued in 2010 after originally obtaining it in 1989, which was valid through 2016. Stephen said:
“The system failed – something failed somewhere down the line and we dealt with a driver who obviously didn’t have the capability of driving responsibly or being responsible for their actions like the rest of us are when we get behind the wheel.”
The father is pushing for something to be done with the driving law after the devastating loss of his child:
“We don’t want any other family in our situation … But you can roll the clock back and ask was this person even fit to be on the road? If he had been flagged earlier he might not even have been driving that day at that place.”
Josephine wants to see her son’s death make a difference the next time people think about questioning the safety of someone they know getting behind the wheel of a car:
“Raising concerns about that person and their driving might end up saving the life of someone.”
Walsh pleaded guilty for failing to offer assistance to someone who had been hurt in an accident and failing to remain at the scene of an accident. He received a two year suspended prison sentence for the accidental death verdict.
He was also banned from driving for 10 years, vowing on his own to never drive again.
The court issued a recommendation that details of Luke’s death be brought to the attention of the National Driver License Service, Road Safety Authority, Insurance Ireland, and the Irish Medical Organization.