Sunday 4 December 2016

Dad allergic to sunlight died in car crash while driving to friend's house at night - inquest

Published 16/12/2015 | 13:41

Paul Attley
Paul Attley

A father of three who was allergic to light died in a car crash after venturing out in his car after dark.

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Paul Attley (55) suffered from a severe form of eczema that caused his skin to burn and peel within seconds of exposure to sunlight resulting in ‘horrendous pain.’

His skin condition, chronic actinic dermatitis (CAD) made him allergic to light including UVA and UVB and artificial light such as fluorescent lights in shops. The condition restricted his movements largely to night time.

Mr Attley from Kilternan, Glencullen, Co Dublin died following a single vehicle road crash on February 28 last.

His wife, Breda Attley told Dublin Coroner’s Court how the condition affected her husband.

“The pain was horrendous, he spent most of his time in the dark at home. Living with CAD was so difficult for him, he would wake in the morning, not able to open the curtains to let the light in or go outside,” she said.

Specific clothing was required if Mr Attley ventured out in daylight, including a full body suit and a balaclava style large plastic mask to be worn over his face, along with sunglasses.

The court heard that it was a relief for Mr Attley to be able to leave the house at night time ‘without burning up.’

Gary Attley said on the night his father died he was going to a friend’s house to play cards but he was worried about his ability to drive due to the effects of his medication.

“He looked a bit dazed and spaced but he said he was okay and went out anyway,” Gary Attley said.

He later came upon the scene when he met an ambulance seeking directions and ‘got a bad feeling.’

Passer-by Nicola Coughlan was driving along Ballyedmundsduff Road between Johnny Fox’s pub and Stepaside when she saw Mr Attley’s car in the hedge.

“He pushed the door open and asked me to call an ambulance,” Ms Coughlan said.

Forensic collision investigator Sergeant Paul Kearney said there was a Space Saver spare tyre on the front of the car and the wheel rim is likely to have hit a kerbstone at the side of the road causing the driver to lose control. Mr Attley's Nissan Micra collided with a stone wall concealed behind the hedge.

Public Service Vehicle inspector Garda Alan Quinn said the major components of the vehicle were in good condition prior to the accident, but said Mr Attley was not wearing his seatbelt.

The cause of death was chest trauma due to impact with the steering wheel. A toxicology report showed the driver was marginally over the limit and under the influence of three different medications.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure taking account of risk factors such as the lack of a seatbelt. The jury asked that the Road Safety Authority be asked to review the safety of the use of Space Saver spare tyres.

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