Sarah died of alcohol poisoning

The late Sarah O’Keeffe
The late Sarah O’Keeffe

Simon Brouder

AN inquest into the death of a young homeless woman in Tralee last October has found she died as a result of acute alcohol intoxication.

Sarah O'Keeffe (22) a homeless woman who had been residing at the Arlington Lodge shelter in Tralee died at Kerry General Hospital on October 27, 2012 having been discovered unconscious in the car park adjacent to Tralee Social Welfare Office.

The inquest, before north Kerry coroner Helen Lucey in Tralee on Friday, heard that Miss O'Keeffe was last seen alive by another resident of Arlington Lodge, John Paul Martin, with whom she had been drinking wine and vodka in the car park that morning.

At around midday, Mr Martin left Ms O'Keeffe in the car park and went to the town centre. He did not see her again and assumed she had left the car park to get more alcohol until he was informed of her death later that day when he returned to the hostel.

A short time after Mr Martin left the area, a passerby spotted Sarah in the car park and, concerned about her condition, contacted gardaí.

Garda Seamus Moriarty, who was on the beat nearby, was alerted and went to the car park where he found Miss O'Keeffe slouched by a wall, unresponsive and with no apparent pulse.

After initial treatment at the scene she was brought by gardai to Kerry General Hospital where she was pronounced dead at 1.30pm following further unsuccessful attempts at resuscitation.

Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margot Bolster said Miss O'Keeffe had a blood alcohol level of 471 milligrammes, an "extremely high blood alcohol level", which is in the lethal range.

The cause of death was declared as acute alcoholic intoxication.