A man who was more than four times the legal alcohol limit when he was involved in a fatal collision on the M50 was disqualified from driving for three years and fined €450, an inquest heard.
Irene O’Hagan (80) of Riverforest, Leixlip in Co Kildare, was fatally injured when Oleg Perekopskyy’s van crashed into the back of her car just passed the Lucan exit on the M50 on the evening of January 27 last year.
Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that Mrs O’Hagan may have missed the exit and her car was travelling very slowly or stopped entirely when the collision happened.
A blood sample taken from Perekopskyy following the accident found that he had a blood alcohol level of 223 milligrams per 100 millilitres. The legal driving limit is 50 milligrams. Sergeant Paul Curtis told the inquest that Perekopskyy pleaded guilty to drink driving and driving without insurance at Dublin District Court in January this year. He received fines totalling €450 and was disqualified from driving for three years. The Director of Public Prosecutions decided against pressing further charges.
Mrs O’Hagan was driving her Nissan Micra home from her son’s house on the night. Daughter Laura Kealy told the court that she had actually passed nearby the accident while searching for her mother because they had not been able to contact her since she had left for home.
Giving evidence, Perekopskyy said that he drank four cans during the day. He had also been drinking heavily the night before and went to bed late. He said that he was driving his van between 90-100 kilometres per hour and was taking the Lucan exit when the collision happened.
“I checked my wing mirrors and when I looked up I saw a small car very close in front of me,” he said, “I tried to escape by turning to the right but the front left side of my car hit the back right of the other car. The weather was very dark and wet”.
The evidence of forensic collision investigator Sergeant Paul Kearney was that the impact had happened passed the Lucan exit. When coroner Dr Brian Farrell put this to Perekopskyy, he insisted that he was taking the exit. He apologised for the accident.
“I am very sorry for what happened and if I could turn back the clock I would,” he said.
Mrs O’Hagan was taken to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, where she was pronounced dead soon after arrival as a result of multiple injuries.
Sgt Kearney said the impact suggested that she had slowed down or stopped. She may have been in the shadowed area but an alert driver would have seen her, he said.
Garda Alan Douglas who administered Perekopskyy’s breath test told the court that he would expect someone with the levels of alcohol recorded in his blood to be “falling over” but “he wasn’t”.
It also emerged during the evidence that the Nissan Micra was accidentally crushed at the recovery yard before gardaí could inspect it. Sgt Curtis said a picture taken of the car at the scene showed the gear stick in the reverse position suggesting that she may have been intending to get back onto the slip road. However, he said this could not be conclusively stated.
The jury returned a narrative verdict outlining the facts and made a recommendation that the system for storage of vehicles pending criminal investigation be reviewed and updated.