Saturday 10 December 2016

Rider killed in crash was over legal limit

Niamh O'Donoghue

Published 04/07/2010 | 05:00

A FORMER gold-medal winning junior-event rider was over the legal driving limit when she died after crashing her car into a telegraph pole on a bog road.

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An inquest was told how Alice Reeves-Smyth, 50, was killed in a single-vehicle collision following a long lunch with friends.

A post-mortem examination revealed that Ms Reeves-Smyth, of Old Barracks, Donadea, Naas, Co Kildare, had a blood-alcohol level of 139mg and and a urine alcohol level of 151mg -- in excess of the legal drink-drive limit -- when she died.

Ms Reeves-Smyth, known as Siobhan during her eventing days, led Ireland to a team gold medal at the 1977 junior European Championships in Fontainebleau, in France.

On December 6 last year, she left the house of a friend she had visited for lunch at around 6.30pm.

She was later pulled from her wrecked car moments before it became engulfed in flames after hitting a telegraph pole on a bog road at Derryvogue outside Naas.

Failed attempts were made by neighbours to quench the blaze with a fire extinguisher.

In a statement read to last week's inquest at Kildare Coroner's Court, local resident Martin Burbridge said the loud bang from the accident triggered his house alarm.

He called the emergency services and asked his wife to get the help of his neighbour Brendan Hall. They then pulled her the injured woman out of the vehicle. Garda Sean Tierney told the court how Ms Reeves-Smyth's pulse had gone by the time he arrived at the scene.

Sergeant Donal Prendergast, of Naas garda station, said driving conditions on the day of the crash were good but the bog road had no markings.

He also said he had located the point of impact and it appeared the vehicle had been moving out of control.

Sgt Prendergast also said the wrecked silver Opel Astra estate 2009 had extensive fire damage. "The stump of a previous telegraph pole may have damaged the fuel tank, which caused it to go on fire."

Coroner Professor Denis Cusack said that in his experience it was "very unusual" for a car to explode into flames after it had been involved in a crash.

Ms Reeves-Smyth,a mother of one, was separated from husband Peter Smyth.

The court heard that she had since formed a relationship with her partner Alan Tyrrell.

The jury of seven returned a verdict of accidental death.

Sunday Independent

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