A young mother died just yards from her new home after the car she was a passenger in lost control, the inquest into her death has heard.
Elaine Brady (28) of 294 Rosemount, Kilmacrennan died after her black BMW, which was driven by her boyfriend Matthew Gallagher, lost control on Kilmacrennan’s Main Street on February 21st 2010.
Letterkenny Coroner’s Court heard that the accident occurred at around 3.45 am just yards from her new home and just 300 yards from her parents’ home. The car hit a kerb, crossed the road twice and collided with two perimeter walls before coming to a stop.
The inquest heard that the mother of one died at the scene after a night out with friends in Letterkenny.
Gallagher (22) was sentenced to two years in prison and disqualified from driving for 12 years after pleading guilty to drink driving and dangerous driving causing death.
Forensic collision investigator Sgt John McFadden said speed and alcohol were the main factors involved in the accident. He said the car was travelling at a minimum of 86 kmph in a 50 kmph zone when it hit the kerb. Gallagher had a blood alcohol level of 169mg.
The car travelled a distance of 159 metres after it struck the kerb. Sgt McFadden said it would have travelled further it had not collided with the wall and it would only have travelled 13.73 metres if it had been travelling at the speed limit.
He said Ms Brady was not wearing a seat-belt and it could not be established whether Gallagher was.
Although it was a cold night with temperatures below freezing Sgt. Peter Duffy of Milford Garda Station, who came across the scene just moments after the accident, said there was no frost or ice on the road which had been treated at 5.30pm the previous evening. There was no sign of life from Ms Brady when he came across the accident. She was taken to Letterkenny General Hospital where she was declared at 4.30am. Sgt Duffy said the car had passed the entrance to Ms Brady’s new home by just a few yards and also her parent’s home.
Charlotte Cullen, a friend of the victim, said Ms Brady had driven to her home in Letterkenny on Saturday evening. They then stopped at another friend’s house in the town before going to Coolboy to the home of another friend in Elaine’s car. The four women took a taxi to the Pulse nightclub in Letterkenny. Ms Brady left the car but brought the keys with her. She said Ms Brady did not drink until they arrived at Coolboy where she had a small amount of vodka and lemonade. They stayed in the Pulse until it closed and Ms Cullen said the last she saw of Ms Brady was when they shared a taxi to her home.
Gemma Spratt, one of the friends who accompanied Ms Brady on the night out, said she had been in contact with Gallagher about meeting up at the Pulse but they didn’t.
Garda PSV inspector John McDaid said most of the damage was on the left hand side of the car which was in serviceable pre-accident condition.
Consultant Pathologist Dr. Caitriona Dillon said death was caused by multiple injuries sustained in a road traffic accident. There were serious injuries to the head and she also suffered a severed spine. Death would have been instant, Dr. Dillon said.
The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence and also added a ryder that speed ramps should be introduced in built up areas to prevent excessive speed.
Coroner John Cannon said it is unimaginable the rationale of any driver who would drive through a quiet country village at such speeds that would cause the car to go out of control.