Inquest hears drunk driver had open bottle of vodka in car as he drove down wrong side of road

Inquest hears drunk driver had open bottle of vodka in car as he drove down wrong side of road
The Coroner's Court in Dublin.

By Louise Roseingrave

A 35-year-old drunk driver who died in a collision had an open bottle of vodka in the car, an inquest heard.

The man was driving on the wrong side of the road when he struck an oncoming car on the Skerries Road, Rush, Co Dublin on February 1, 2017.

An autopsy revealed Valdis Gabravnovs was severely intoxicated when he crashed his VW Passat at 11.25pm.

The Latvian father of two sustained an "unsurvivable" cut to his heart in the impact and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Three occupants of the other car, an Audi A3 sustained serious injuries in the collision. One suffered a broken neck.

Minutes earlier, the man’s car had collided with a lamppost on Palmer Road in Rush. Witness Paul Callan saw the driver get out of the car and try to remove a street sign that had become lodged underneath it. He then drove off with the sign trapped under his car.

He took a left turn onto Skerries Road and travelled a few hundred metres before colliding with the Audi.

The court heard he was not wearing his seatbelt and there was an open bottle of vodka in a compartment in the door.

Forensic Collision Investigator Garda Damien Farrell told the court the car was severely damaged in the first collision with the lamp post.

“He then turned left onto Skerries Road and the collision occurred on the southbound lane, indicating Mr Gabranovs was driving on the wrong side of the road,” Gda Farrell said.

Paramedics had difficulty removing the man from the step-well of the car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

A post-mortem gave the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia due to traumatic laceration of the right heart ventricle with severe alcohol intoxication as a contributory factor.

"This was an unsurvivable injury," Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.

The inquest heard Mr Gabravnovs worked long hours but had trouble sleeping at night. His partner said he was in a lot of pain and was taking painkillers around the time of his death.

The jury returned an open verdict.

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