Carpenter 'driving crazy' before death

Last updated 11:29 14/11/2012
GONE: Apprentice carpenter Daniel James Mercer, 20, died early on Christmas Eve.

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A Christchurch man who drowned after his car crashed into the Avon River had been drinking, speeding and "driving crazy'' on his restricted licence.

A report by coroner Richard McElrea was released today on the death of Daniel Mercer, 20, who died on Christmas Eve last year.

Mercer, an apprentice carpenter, had attended a work function in Merivale earlier in the night and had been ''drinking heavily''.

Early on December 24, he got in his Mazda Familia and picked up a friend in Bealey Ave.

The pair drove around the city until about 3.35am, when Mercer dropped his friend off in Riccarton and sped away.

About 4am, Mercer was driving east in New Brighton Rd when he failed to take a bend outside Burwood School.

He lost control of the car, which flipped upside down and became submerged in the Avon.

Despite rescue attempts, he died at the scene.

At the time of his death, his mother, Susan Mercer, an intensive-care nurse at Christchurch Hospital, said she had planned to spend Christmas Day with her son.

''They [young men] think they're invincible and I just don't know how we change it. I see the results of accidents all the time. It's a tragic loss of young men,'' she said.

An autopsy showed there were no life-threatening impact injuries from the crash and Mercer had died as a result of drowning.

He had a level of 145 milligrams of alcohol to 100 millilitres of blood and had not been wearing a seatbelt.

Mercer was reported to have been "driving crazy'' earlier in the night and had been doing burnouts and handbrake turns, the coroner said.

He had a restricted licence, so should not have been driving after 10pm.

Constable Steven Spencer calculated Mercer was travelling at 97kmh in the 50kmh area. 

He said the vehicle's headlight switch was off.

''This was unusual as it would have been hard to knock out in the crash,'' he said.

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- The Press

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