Young mum twice legal limit before fatal smash in Cork
Published 15/02/2012 | 05:00
A YOUNG woman who drove in the wrong direction on a dual carriageway before crashing into another car -- killing herself and the other driver -- had been drinking heavily earlier in the night.
Aoife Callanan (25), a mother of one, and John Joe Galvin (17) died instantly in the head-on collision just after midnight on March 18 last year, a double inquest heard yesterday.
Ms Callanan had a level of alcohol in her blood that was almost two times the legal limit for driving, Cork County Coroner's Court was told.
A post-mortem screening on Mr Galvin was negative for alcohol and drugs.
It is not known how Ms Callanan ended driving in the wrong direction along the Cork city-bound carriageway of the N25 Cork to Midleton Road.
Her Toyota Corolla collided with a Volkswagen Golf driven by Mr Galvin, at Courtstown, Little Island.
Mr Galvin, from Ballymitty, Co Wexford was on his way to a motor rally in west Cork with a friend, Nicholas Ely, who was a front-seat passenger.
Mr Ely was seriously injured and told the inquest he had "no recollection" of the impact.
The double inquests heard alarming evidence from a number of motorists who came across Ms Callanan's car travelling in the wrong direction.
Area manager with Donatello's, Eddie Mulryan, said he noticed headlights coming towards him in the fast lane and moved into the left lane.
As he turned into the left lane, the two cars "collided in a violent smash".
Mr Mulryan said the Volkswagen had tried to avoid the collision by veering to the left.
A post-mortem toxicology report found her blood-alcohol level was 157 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
The legal limit at the time was 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
A garda investigation failed to establish how Ms Callanan, who was on her way to Dungourney, Midleton, Co Cork, came to be on the wrong side of the carriageway.
Coroner for South Cork, Frank O'Connell, said it was quite clear that Ms Callanan thought she was driving on the correct side.
"For whatever reason Ms Callanan got herself on to the wrong side of the dual carriageway and was driving in the fast lane in the wrong direction.
"Almost certainly she was proceeding on the basis she was driving on a two-way road," said the coroner.
"It appears to me she didn't realise it and never knew it. Due to that mistake, two young lives were lost," he said.
A jury returned verdicts of accidental death in both inquests.