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Inch Strand Photo by: Irish-Cairde.org

Surf instructor cleared over death of American tourist on beach

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Inch Strand Photo by: Irish-Cairde.org

A surfing instructor has been acquitted of dangerous driving causing the death of an American tourist on a beach.

Kentucky tourist, Jenna Hill, 58, died instantly when she was struck by a truck being reversed by the accused on July 2, 2011.

Rowan Minjon (25), of Brandon Bay Lodge, the Maherees, Castlegregory, Co Kerry, had pleaded not guilty to the charge at Inch Beach, Ardroe, at Tralee Circuit Court, the Irish Examiner reports.

The trial, which lasted two days, heard the young man had been employed by Offshore Surf School when the tragic accident occurred.

He was reversing a 40 foot truck, which served as a mobile shop, onto the beach at around 9:45 am, when the accident occurred. The court heard the truck had no working horn, or working reverse lights, as required under the road traffic act.

The trial heard the victim had just disembarked a tour bus from Killarney and had gone to the strand and was looking out to sea. Minjon was reversing the truck onto the tide at around 9.45am that morning, when he struck the tourist, who died instantly from severe head injuries.

Garda vehicle inspector Jim O’Brien said Minjon had been unaware of the lady, adding that she should have noticed the "big bright noisy and near" truck.

After 50 minutes of deliberation the jury unanimously decided to bring in a verdict of not guilty of dangerous driving causing death.

Judge Moran offered his condolences to the family of the deceased who died in such a tragic way.

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