THE stepfather of a Scottish woman who was under the influence of drugs when her car veered into the path of an oncoming lorry has told how “we did everything” to get her off substance abuse.
Julia Elizabeth Helen Kerr, 32, died on March 17, 2011, on the Frosses Road, Dunloy.
In her findings, Coroner Suzanne Anderson found that Miss Kerr died when the car she was driving collided with a lorry while she was under the influence of drugs.
Mother-of-two Miss Kerr, of no fixed abode, had been arrested on March 16 and her car keys seized by police. The morning of the crash she had just retrieved her vehicle – a yellow Renault Megane – after passing a breath test at Ballymoney PSNI station.
Ms Anderson, sitting in Coleraine, heard how police were notified about the fatal crash at 9.35am.
The driver of the lorry, Liam Brennan, said he first saw Miss Kerr’s yellow car when “it bolted out very suddenly”.
In a statement he said her driving “was classic to me of someone searching down on the floor, and lost control of the steering”.
Mr Brennan said after the collision other drivers on the road said to him, “there was nothing you could do”.
“It is a miracle that no-one else was struck,” he said.
“I was devastated. I believe the car was responsible for the collision. The accident was the scariest rollercoaster ride I have ever been on.”
It was not known where Miss Kerr had stayed the night after she was arrested as she did not stay where police had suggested – a Simon Community hostel or a guest house in Ballymoney.
Her stepfather, Andrew Prentice, from Ayrshire, believes she “slept rough” as she had been sleeping in her car.
“She was always on drugs,” he told the News Letter.
“That started when she was 16. We tried to help. We bought her a car and brought her over here to get her away from the drug habits, tried everything, but it went with her. We tried everything to help her. But she was a happy lassie. She now has a wee granddaughter, born in January, who is named after her.”
During the inquest, Damien Coll, from Forensic Science NI, said he found no reason why Miss Kerr’s Renault Megane would have veered into the path of the lorry.
The post-mortem found that Miss Kerr died from multiple injuries sustained during the collision. It also found that Miss Kerr had taken diazepam and tramadol in therapeutic amounts – but there was also a presence of hydracodeine in her blood, which in combination with other drugs would have produced a degree of sedation.
The post-mortem also found that Miss Kerr had a small container of hydracodeine secreted in her body.