Fatal crash driver missed usual nap

Coroner David Crerar
Coroner David Crerar

The death of a Timaru woman following a serious car crash has been found to be without criminal or suspicious circumstances, a coroner's report shows.

Dunedin Coroner David Crerar today released findings relating to the death of Ella Adair Irving, 73, from Timaru, who died following a car crash on the outskirts of Pleasant Point in South Canterbury last year.

On September 17, 2013 about 2pm, Ella Adair Irving lost control of the car she was driving.

Evidence from police said the car veered to the side of the road, narrowly missing a concrete culvert, before it flipped and came to rest against roadside trees. Adair Irving was taken to Timaru Hospital and the next day was transferred to Christchurch Hospital, where she "stabilised".

However, on September 27, she suddenly became unresponsive and died.

An autopsy found the cause of death to be a brain haemorrhage.

Police found there to be no "criminal liability" or "suspicious circumstances" surrounding Adair Irving's death.

The coroner said there was evidence to support the fact Adair Irving "probably fell asleep whilst driving", and that her later injuries were likely a result of the crash.

The report noted that while in hospital, Irving told her children she may have fallen asleep behind the wheel.

Kathryn Hill and David Irving described their mother as "a very busy person who looked after herself, and her home and her garden well".

Hill said for more than 40 years her mother would have an afternoon sleep unless she needed to attend a meeting or similar activity. On the day of the crash, Adair Irving missed her usual sleep.

The coroner said there was no evidence of any failure by any medical professional to diagnose and treat Adair Irving to the appropriate professional standard.

The Timaru Herald