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Quick thinking van driver saved boy's life says father; police appeal for help in finding vehicle involved...

The father of a 13-year-old boy in the Republic of Ireland says a quick-thinking van driver saved his son’s life after the youngster was pushed off his bike at speed by a car passenger.

Conor McKenna, a member of Emyvale Cycling Club, was knocked unconscious after being shoved from his bike on Monday afternoon while on a training ride in County Monaghan, reports the Irish Mirror.

The newspaper says that after being thrown into a roadside ditch, he bounced back into the middle of the road. A van driver got out of his vehicle and managed to stop an approaching lorry as the teenager lay on the road surface.

Conor’s father, Richard McKenna, told the newspaper: “A young lad from Louth pulled up in a small transit van and stopped the lorry and another car on the road.

“Thank God he did because I can’t imagine what could have happened to Conor if he hadn’t been there.

“There’s absolute no doubt in my mind he wouldn’t be here today if that lad hadn’t stopped the lorry.”

He added that his son’s cycle helmet, which was broken in the incident, had helped save him, saying: “I want to urge all parents to make sure their kids wear helmets when they go out because I think Conor would have been killed even if he was wearing a cheaper version of the helmet.

“Because he is such a keen cyclist he was kitted out in proper cycling gear so I dread to think what could have happened if he wasn’t. His helmet was completely smashed.”

Mr McKenna went on: “Conor has been out cycling since he was 10 and loves it.

"He goes out every day for 20 or 22 miles at a time and we always tell him to make sure he is careful and to obey the law of the road.

“We never dreamt that someone would do something like that to a child.

“It was a mindless, random act of absolute madness, and it could have been absolutely anybody.”

He added: “Would they have done that to a pensioner?”

A neighbour of the family reportedly chased after the vehicle involved in their car but lost it.

A report in the Irish Examiner added some more detail about the incident. The newspaper said that the vehicle had drawn up alongside Conor when a rear-seat passenger lowered the window, grabbed the youngster, then pushed him away.

Police have appealed for help in tracing a maroon Peugeot 306 with a Northern Irish registration that had been spotted in the area at the time, and anyone with information is asked to call the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

25 comments

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OldRidgeback [2620 posts] 2 years ago
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horrendous - hope the lad gets better - really lucky the van driver saw what happened and prevented it from being more serious

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balmybaldwin [157 posts] 2 years ago
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Well done van driver... it restores some faith in humanity at least. Really hope they catch the guy who did this and throw the book at him.

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Das [242 posts] 2 years ago
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How long before all vehicles will be fitted with in car DVR by law? The sooner the better imo. This is clearly attempted Murder, nothing less!!!!!!

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MartyMcCann [236 posts] 2 years ago
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Problem is if it is a Northern Irish reg car then nothing can be done unless the car is spotted down south again- traffic offences committed on one side of the border have no impact on the other. Despite politicians, the Guards and the PSNI talking for years about penalty points etc being transferable it still hasn't come into force- explains why so many people from the North and South drive like gabshites as soon as they cross the border into the other jurisdiction. Basically the Gardaí could have the name, address and photo of the offender and, as long as the miscreant stays on the Northern side, then they are powerless.

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seven [150 posts] 2 years ago
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But will the same hold true for something like this? It's hardly a pissy wee traffic offence.

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Al__S [1024 posts] 2 years ago
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Quite. No need to stick to "traffic offences", this is assault bordering on attempted murder.

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balmybaldwin [157 posts] 2 years ago
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@otis

This isnt a traffic offense as it was the passenger that did the deed (although im sure the driver should be be prosecuted tooo)

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SideBurn [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Does anyone know if the Garda as useless as the UK Police when it comes to incidents like this?

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Critchio [176 posts] 2 years ago
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Yeah its an assault. They will find the vehicle responsible - at some point it will pass a number plate recognition camera and then there are the database checks on the vehicles which could help to narrow it down. The person that chased the vehicle should also be able to remember some of the number plate characters despite it not being reported. They'll find it, but then its a job of identifying the person responsible. But I hope they do that as well.

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 2 years ago
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But yet... its still absolutely fine to spread cycle hate across the main stream press... indeed it is encouraged by editors as a way to generate coverage...

The end result is shit like this... people thinking cyclists are the new underclass, fit for whatever fun and actions they deem funny...

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IHphoto [116 posts] 2 years ago
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Having been in a small group when a passenger in a passing car that swerved in and wacked my riding buddy in the back with their hand and we followed it all up with the police I don't hold out that much hope these nasty pieces of work will be prosecuted. Not because the police didn't want to fully pursue it believe me - it's just the scant evidence to bring a case.

Unless someone shops them and they confess (in whichever order) then without corroboration you haven't got much. That's unless maybe the van driver saw the occupant to identify them if they catch up with the suspects - that's a slim possibility I guess.
One can hope.

I just pray the younglad makes a full recovery. It's a good job the van driver did halt the traffic.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

But yet... its still absolutely fine to spread cycle hate across the main stream press... indeed it is encouraged by editors as a way to generate coverage...

I made a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission recently about a typically ranty local news piece where the "journalist" concluded with "Perhaps a smart jab with the business end of a billiard cue through the open window will do the trick in directing the rider on to his designated part of the carriageway".

The PCC responded by dismissing it saying they were "satisfied that this suggestion was intended to be facetious, and was not intended as a serious piece of advice to readers."

They completely missed the point that "jokes" like that are part of normalising violence towards cyclists and ultimately lead to incidents like this one.

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brooksby [1274 posts] 2 years ago
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GrahamSt wrote:

The PCC responded by dismissing it saying they were "satisfied that this suggestion was intended to be facetious, and was not intended as a serious piece of advice to readers."

They completely missed the point that "jokes" like that are part of normalising violence towards cyclists and ultimately lead to incidents like this one.

Exactly. The press seem to be able to write whatever they like now, about cyclists (to a degree that they cannot about any ethnic or cultural group). Local papers in particular love cycling stories, as it generates so many hits on their websites. But when you read the comments, it's so depressing - there are so many people out there thinking such venomous thoughts about us, that it's surprising there aren't more incidents. Seriously, some people really hate cyclists.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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Otis Bragg wrote:

Problem is if it is a Northern Irish reg car then nothing can be done unless the car is spotted down south again- traffic offences committed on one side of the border have no impact on the other. Despite politicians, the Guards and the PSNI talking for years about penalty points etc being transferable it still hasn't come into force- explains why so many people from the North and South drive like gabshites as soon as they cross the border into the other jurisdiction. Basically the Gardaí could have the name, address and photo of the offender and, as long as the miscreant stays on the Northern side, then they are powerless.

Eh, this was done by a passenger, so it's not a motoring offense. It's a violent, intentional, assault that just happened to take place while on a road surface...

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 2 years ago
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Its amazing that the same people that are seemingly appalled by racist, homophobic and sexist jokes because of the affirmation of unacceptable viewpoints they supposedly promote, can't see how the same might apply here.

My ride on Sunday was peppered by a significant amount of vitriol from car drivers, more than I have ever experienced previously and in line with the increasing amount of 'hate' I have witnessed over the past couple of years.

One guy was giving it the old swearing, swerving and exaggerated arm wavering action at me, as I simply rode along, on my own, in a straight line, on a quiet, wide, road. I genuinely could see no reason for his outburst other than I had the audacity to be 'there'.

Fingers crossed the lad makes a quick recovery, and for all my moaning, this is realistically a once in a lifetime event, so hopefully he'll not be too put off.

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MartyMcCann [236 posts] 2 years ago
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jacknorell wrote:

Eh, this was done by a passenger, so it's not a motoring offense. It's a violent, intentional, assault that just happened to take place while on a road surface...

Doesn't matter if it is a motoring offence or not-they will still find it hard to prosecute as it is a cross border issue. I was only using the example of motoring offences to illustrate my point.

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GrahamSt [167 posts] 2 years ago
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Jimmy Ray Will wrote:

Its amazing that the same people that are seemingly appalled by racist, homophobic and sexist jokes because of the affirmation of unacceptable viewpoints they supposedly promote, can't see how the same might apply here.

The PCC had an answer for that too when I mentioned it.
Cyclists are apparently not a "proper" minority group and don't get protection:

The PCC wrote:

Under Clause 12, newspapers must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s race, colour, religion, gender, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability. However, the clause does not cover references to groups or categories of people. The Commission also made clear that the terms of Clause 12 do not cover the mode of transport which individuals choose to use. Further, it wished to emphasise the tongue in cheek nature of the piece. It noted that the complainants had been offended by the commentator’s views on cyclists but was unable to establish a breach of Clause 12.

So if he'd "joked" about attacking black people with a billiard cue then they'd rightly have been all over him, but the same "joke" about cyclists is perfectly fine.

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goggy [153 posts] 2 years ago
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I've had someone throw a rock at me, miss, then come back and attempt it again the second time. The second time it did hit me, but on my pack I was carrying so I was not injured. I got home, then jumped in my car driving all over the place looking for the car, intent on slashing his tyres. Needless to say I did not find him. Probably a good thing. I phoned Plod but they were not in the slightest bit interested.  14

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andyp [1448 posts] 2 years ago
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goggy wrote:

I've had someone throw a rock at me, miss, then come back and attempt it again the second time. The second time it did hit me, but on my pack I was carrying so I was not injured. I got home, then jumped in my car driving all over the place looking for the car, intent on slashing his tyres. Needless to say I did not find him. Probably a good thing. I phoned Plod but they were not in the slightest bit interested.  14

Did you call them 'Plod' when you spoke to them? Might be the problem.

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antigee [336 posts] 2 years ago
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a couple of years back had a lad throw half a brick at me in the dark on a busy commuter road in Sheffield- reported to Police mainly in case there was regular stuff like this going on at the location - they followed it up checking with local community officers for youths matching my description and asked where I thought the brick had come from because if a skip/builders rubble they would contact to get moved

oddly I was hit on my rucsac as well and the Police asked me to confirm that specifically as apparently that wouldn't make it assault!

As to the lad, very sad that a young rider can't go out and train safely - hope culprit gets caught and well done to the van driver

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userfriendly [562 posts] 2 years ago
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goggy wrote:

I've had someone throw a rock at me, miss, then come back and attempt it again the second time. The second time it did hit me, but on my pack I was carrying so I was not injured. I got home, then jumped in my car driving all over the place looking for the car, intent on slashing his tyres. Needless to say I did not find him. Probably a good thing. I phoned Plod but they were not in the slightest bit interested.  14

I'm not sure any more whether that's really a good thing.

It's a nice thing to say, yes. But I'm starting to think that those kind of people who do things like that - and the people who are like them and hear/read about it - won't learn it any other way. The only language they speak and understand is violence. You hurt me? I hurt you + 50%.

I mean, yes I will be charged with assault / destruction of property / whatever. But I'm starting to believe more and more that it might just be worth it. Because fuck all else works.

Now, by "learn" I don't mean them suddenly recognising that life is precious and that it's not nice to put people at risk. Fat chance of that happening. No, what I mean by that is simply them being more careful solely out of fear of the consequences for themselves.

A bit like Sharia law. It doesn't teach the thief that stealing is bad. It teaches the thief that if he steals he gets his fucking hand chopped off.

As I said ... I'm not sure. But it starts feeling like it more and more.

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Jimmy Ray Will [470 posts] 2 years ago
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Its a sad state of affairs really... having a police force and a justice system is supposed to protect us citizens from ourselves... i.e. there is no need to take vigilante action as there is a system for dealing with all of this...

Sadly, when that system is seemingly failing the common man then the only actions to take are a) accept it, or b) take matters into your own hands.

My bet is that this is a cyclicial thing... what will really drive more investment in our police force and justice system is increases in vigilante activity, because that I am guessing is a societal gauge for where things are at ground level.

So, like Userfriendly, I too am starting to think that retaliation is the answer now.

Going back to examples given above. Imagine if the situation had manifested itself that you the rider had a chance to pick up the brick just thrown at you and throw it back at the car smashing a windscreen. In court you are going to be convicted, but in mitigating circumstances its all going to get a bit awkward when you state that you were simply throwing the car drivers brick back for them.

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jacknorell [966 posts] 2 years ago
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Otis Bragg wrote:
jacknorell wrote:

Eh, this was done by a passenger, so it's not a motoring offense. It's a violent, intentional, assault that just happened to take place while on a road surface...

Doesn't matter if it is a motoring offence or not-they will still find it hard to prosecute as it is a cross border issue. I was only using the example of motoring offences to illustrate my point.

Fair enough, I did get the point about cross-border issues.

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notfastenough [3679 posts] 2 years ago
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For those discussing vigilante action, I'd suggest you think through any possible actions. I fully realise how maddening it is, but here's thing: In a battle between a typical road cyclist and a toerag, who do you think has the better family life/home/job/career prospects? You will likely have far more to lose.

Stay safe people.

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kie7077 [877 posts] 2 years ago
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IHphoto wrote:

Having been in a small group when a passenger in a passing car that swerved in and wacked my riding buddy in the back with their hand and we followed it all up with the police I don't hold out that much hope these nasty pieces of work will be prosecuted. Not because the police didn't want to fully pursue it believe me - it's just the scant evidence to bring a case.

Unless someone shops them and they confess (in whichever order) then without corroboration you haven't got much. That's unless maybe the van driver saw the occupant to identify them if they catch up with the suspects - that's a slim possibility I guess.
One can hope.

I just pray the younglad makes a full recovery. It's a good job the van driver did halt the traffic.

Multiple witnesses is not scant evidence, please stop perpetuating this myth that blood or some other physical evidence is needed to prosecute a crime.