Belfast Telegraph

Young Northern Ireland dad twice drink-drive limit at time of tragic crash, inquest told

By Gillian Halliday

A young father-of-two who was at least twice the drink-drive limit when he was killed in a single-vehicle crash sustained a "shocking" level of injuries, a coroner has said.

Reginald Diamond, from the Upperlands area of Co Londonderry, died at Causeway Coast Hospital on March 19, 2017.

Coroner Patrick McGurgan said it was one of the most distressing cases he had ever heard during his career.

The inquest, held yesterday in Ballymena Courthouse, heard graphic details about the collision.

It happened when the silver BMW car Mr Diamond was driving lost control along the Curragh Road in Coleraine at around 6.30am. It left the road and careered up a grass verge, where it hit a telegraph pole.

It then travelled mid-air, overturning a number of times before it came to stop, upright - 120 metres from where it initially left the road.

Local woman Lynn Connor, who was out walking when she witnessed the accident, said in her statement that the BMW had passed her "like a bullet", before moments later she saw the car "lose control".

She subsequently alerted emergency services. However, such was the extent of damage to the vehicle, crew members had to remove the vehicle's roof to reach Mr Diamond, who was "unconscious and unresponsive" at the scene but still had a pulse.

The inquest heard that Mr Diamond had been wearing his seatbelt during the collision.

Forensic scientist Gavin Dunn said that on examination of the steering wheel, the young father had attempted to regain control.

A police officer - who witnessed the aftermath of the collision - said two empty beer cans had also been "found in the footwell" of the vehicle, with further cans located within the vicinity of the scene of the crash.

It emerged that during the hours before the fatal collision the previous evening, Mr Diamond had visited a bar where it is believed he had consumed "four pints" before leaving the premises and travelled to a fast food drive-thru. He then made the journey by car to the home of a friend, where he consumed another beer.

State pathologist Dr James Lyness - giving his statement via video-link - concluded that the farm labourer had sustained multiple fractures to his body, but determined that it was a head injury that had ultimately resulted in his death.

The doctor said Mr Diamond's alcohol levels had been tested on admission to hospital and gave a reading of 154mg per 100ml of blood, almost twice the legal drink-drive limit of 80mg/100ml. Dr Lyness said this likely meant that Mr Diamond was twice over the legal limit at the time of the collision.

Speaking at the inquest, Mr Diamond's sister, Catherine Hutchinson, described her late sibling as a loving father who "adored his children" and as "someone who would've helped anybody".

The coroner, Mr McGurgan, offered his deepest condolences, and said it should make others stop and think before they get behind the wheel.

Praising the bravery of the family in allowing Reggie's organs to be donated, Mr McGurgan said the gesture should give them some small comfort.

He added: "Reggie, through death, has helped untold numbers of individuals on the transplant list, which is only to be commended, and I think that is the mark of the man himself and his family that you made the decision to opt for organ donation."

Summing up, the coroner added: "The list of injuries that was sustained was simply shocking and reinforces the need for people to slow down and not to drink-drive."

Belfast Telegraph

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