Driver in fatal crash on A614 was over drink limit
THREE people were killed in a head-on crash after one of the drivers had been drinking.
Sheila Stavert Lee, 70, was almost twice the drink-drive limit when her burgundy Volvo crossed lanes and went into the path of a Volkswagen Golf.
The impact killed father and son Derek Sarkar, 46, and Ethan Sarkar, 14, and seriously injured Derek's wife Karen and their daughter Abbie.
The horrific crash, which also killed Mrs Lee, happened on the A614 at East Cowick near Goole in April.
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An inquest into their deaths, held in Hull yesterday, found Mrs Lee had 141mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – the legal limit for driving being 80mg.
A bottle of pear wine fortified with vodka, which was a third full, was found in her car and remnants of the same-coloured liquid were found in a glass.
Mrs Lee, who lived in Wigginton near York, also had a prescription sedative in her system.
Dr Latifu Sanni, who carried out all three post-mortem examinations, said: "The ethanol may have had a detrimental effect on cognitive functions and motor skills.
"The concentration of drugs was of a therapeutic range of use but combined with the sedative, it may have increased the sedation affects."
Ethan and Derek Sarkar, of Birmingham, were sitting in the front of their silver Golf when the crash happened on a canal bridge.
The family were planning to celebrate Abbie's birthday with Karen's friend Jane, whose husband was also celebrating a birthday.
Bedding, drinks and Easter eggs for the party at Jane's house in Selby were all found near their car.
In a statement read out at Hull Coroner's Court, Karen Sarkar said: "I was sat in the back with Abbie and Derek and Ethan were in the front.
"I remember we were singing, talking and having a laugh, like anyone would do.
"I don't recall the impact but I recall waking up and hearing Abbie screaming.
"I remember it took an age for them to get me out of the car – I was trapped by my legs."
Karen spent three months in hospital in Leeds and had pins and plates put in her body.
She has had several surgical procedures and will probably need more surgery in future.
She said: "I've only recently been able to climb the stairs and sleep in my own bed.
"I have to rely on family and friends for help to do chores.
"I'm currently seeking professional help as I have anxiety and panic and attacks and Abbie and I are both getting counselling.
"Abbie has a cradle halo brace on her head to protect her neck, so she can't play with her friends like an average ten-year-old.
"I've lost my best friend in Derek and my beautiful baby boy Ethan.
"Nothing will ever bring them back."
The coroner's court heard Mrs Lee had suffered depression and anxiety and had struggled with drinking problems in the past.
Her daughter Karen, who was travelling in a blue Ford Mondeo behind her mother when the crash happened, said she did not have reason to believe her mother had been drinking before they set off from their home near York to an address in Doncaster.
She said: "I was following behind her but after a roundabout I lost sight of her for a bit.
"I continued following her and, as the road had some bends, I kept seeing her ahead.
"About 400 or 500 yards before the bridge I lost sight of her again.
"Then I saw a cloud of smoke on the bridge with a bit of burgundy on one side and some silver on the other.
"The cloud cleared and I saw both vehicles – there was substantial damage and they were completely blocking the road."
Coroner Geoffrey Saul said all three people had died from injuries sustained in the crash.
He went on to explain that the coroner's court does not seek to prove any criminal or civil liability.
He said: "I will simply say that Derek and Ethan were in a VW Golf, which was being driving appropriately, when for some reason the vehicle driven by Mrs Lee strayed from its own carriageway and into the oncoming carriageway.
"There was no evidence of excessive speed but the incline of the bridge meant neither driver had an advanced view of the other car.
"On the basis of the evidence I have heard, the verdict I return is one of accidental death."
The Sarkar family released a statement, after the inquest.
It said: “We are devastated by the tragic loss of Derek and Ethan and we are thankful that the inquest has now taken place.
“We continue to support Karen and Abbie as they recover from their very serious injuries and as they attempt to re-build their lives.
“We are all still grieving and are slowly beginning to come to terms with our tragic loss.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank friends, family and all the professionals that have given us help in our time of need.
“Now that the inquest has taken place we would be very grateful if our privacy is respected so that we can all re-build our lives and cherish the memories of our beloved family members.”