Student killed in crash was over the limit after socialising the previous night, inquest hears

A student was found to have a blood alcohol levle above the legal limit following his death in a car crash which his family feel may have been caused by temporary blindness in the morning sunshine. 

The car Sean Madden (23) from Old Court Road, Bray, Co Wicklow was driving struck a pole on a slipway onto the M50.

He sustained multiple injuries in the crash shortly before 9am on July 30 2014. The pole has since been removed, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.

An inquest into Mr Madden’s death heard he had been out with friends in a club on Harcourt Street in Dublin the night before. He had a blood alcohol level of 121 mg and Coroner Dr Myra Culllinane noted that the alcohol was leaving his system at the time of the crash.

The public relations student had dropped friends home earlier that morning and was driving back to Bray when he lost control of his VW Polo merging from the N11 onto the M50.

His friend Olwyn Mahon was the last to see him alive. He had dropped her at work shortly before the incident, the inquest heard.

The pair were among friends socialising the night before. The group returned to Mr Madden’s house in Bray around 2am. The following morning, he dropped his friends back to Dublin city centre, departing Bray at 7.10am.

“Sean seemed fine to me, he was in really good form. His driving was fine,” Miss Mahon said.

There had been a drinks promotion at Dicey’s bar where the friends were socialising the previous night, with pints and bottles selling for €2.50, the court heard.

Mr Madden dropped Miss Mahon in Dalkey at 8.35am and continued towards Bray. Motorist Emmet Savage witnessed the crash.

“I saw the vehicle swerving in the lane ahead and then enter the grass verge. It hit the pole. It rolled and landed on its side,” Mr Savage said.

He estimated the speed at between 80kmph and 100kmph. The speed limit is 100kmph.

PSV inspector Garda Alan Quinn found the car was roadworthy at the time of the crash and Mr Madden was wearing his seatbelt. Forensic Collision Investigator Sergeant Paul Kearney said the car sustained a substantial impact with the 4m pole. It travelled along the pole moving upwards and landed on the passenger side, Sgt Kearney said.

From the public gallery the student’s mother Monica Madden said she believed her son was blinded by the glare of the sun as he travelled down the slipway onto the M50.

“The sun catches you there,” she said.

The jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure and recommended that where large road signs are located on a verge consideration be given to the erection of a buffer between the sign and the road surface.


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