Belfast Telegraph

Family 'can let victim rest with dignity' after inquest finds she was not driver in fatal crash

By Allan Preston

The family of a Portadown student killed in a car crash say they are relieved that an inquest has confirmed she was not driving at the time.

Katherine Kelley was 21 when she was fatally injured while going home after a night out with friends in the early hours of November 3, 2012.

Four others, all aged between 18 and 21, had been in a Ford Fiesta when the female driver, who had been drinking, lost control of the car on the Armagh Road.

The vehicle mounted a verge and spun before hitting a concrete post and two trees.

Emergency services found Ms Kelley unconscious with her head and body slumped forward.

She was rushed to Craigavon Area Hospital but had sustained a fractured skull with swelling and bleeding to the brain.

Doctors confirmed a loss of brain function the following day.

Over 100 people visited the hospital to pay their respects at the time and Ms Kelley's organs were donated, with her liver being given to a six-month-old baby.

An eyewitness previously said Ms Kelley was behind the wheel.This clashed with the evidence of an investigating officer who attended the scene and said he was absolutely certain she was a rear seat passenger.

Coroner Suzanne Anderson said this was backed up by another rear seat passenger and that the witness had been mistaken.

The witness had also said the driver was not wearing a seatbelt and the airbag didn't deploy, but this was also incorrect.The coroner said the death was "a shocking and tragic loss of a young life" and urged people not to drink and drive on nights out or to accept lifts from people who had. Family solicitor Matthew McKenna said there was an "overwhelming feeling of relief" that Ms Kelley had been established as a rear seat passenger.

He added: "The family have no wish to discuss the wider issues that were canvassed during the inquest and welcome the fact that these proceedings are at an end."

Ms Kelley's mother Kathy Lennon (58), brother David Kelley (32) and sister Samantha Mackle (30) attended the inquest yesterday.

In a statement, they said: "Now we have the opportunity to let our darling daughter, sister and auntie rest with dignity."

They thanked the coroner, their legal team, emergency services and the ICU unit at Craigavon Area Hospital "for all the great care and support they have given to our family."

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