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Dad who was allergic to sunlight died after car crashed on night drive


Victim Paul Attley

Victim Paul Attley

Victim Paul Attley

A dad-of-three who was allergic to light died in a car crash when he went out for a drive after dark.

Paul Attley (55) suffered from a severe form of eczema that caused his skin to burn 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 from fluorescent strips in shops.

Mr Attley, of Kilternan, Co Dublin, died following a single vehicle crash last February 28.

His wife, Breda, 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. He would wake in the morning, not able to open the curtains," she said.

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

Gary Attley said that on the night his father died he was going to a friend's house to play cards but 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," he said.


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

Passer-by Nicola Coughlan was driving on 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," she said.

Collision investigator Sgt Paul Kearney said there was a Space Saver tyre on the front of the car and the rim is likely to have hit a kerb, causing the driver to lose control.

Mr Attley's Nissan Micra hit a stone wall concealed by the hedge.

Public Service Vehicle inspector Gda 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 Mr Attley was marginally over the limit and under the influence of three different medications.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure.