Man forced bus with 49 elderly passengers into field

A 19-year-old inexperienced driver was found by a court to have caused a bus with 49 elderly passengers aboard to topple over a ditch into a field off a narrow country road.

But Donegal District Court accepted a plea from Kevin Meehan, who was charged with dangerous driving, that he was guilty of driving carelessly.

Judge Kevin Kilrane was told that Meehan, who had a provisional licence and was only a few months driving, was with his younger brother when their car went into a skid and collided with the right-hand front of the bus.

The court heard a statement from bus-driver Francis McKelvey that on a right-hand bend he saw a small car approaching at speed and it appeared to be out of control.

Prosecuting Inspector Denis Joyce said the bus went off the road. Nobody was injured but all the passengers were in a state of shock.

The passengers, mostly aged between 70 and 80, were from Carrigans and St Johnstone in north-east Co. Donegal.

They were on an old folks outing to Donegal town and Ardara when the accident happened.

Meehan, a student of Thower, Inver, with an ambition to teach, admitted in court that he was only driving a few months but he had experience driving a tractor on the family farm.

He added that what he had learned from the collision on June 23, 2012, that he was “lucky to be here today.”

Judge Kilrane said the bus had to take evasive action and turned over on its side in a field all because Meehan was driving too fast.

Meehan was fined €300 for careless driving.