A motorcyclist who was twice the legal drink-driving limit suffered catastrophic injuries during an early morning crash in north Belfast, an inquest has heard.
Edward (Eddie) Hall was riding his Suzuki 650cc motorbike along the York Road shortly after 4.30am on July 11 last year when it struck a central reservation.
The 28-year-old was thrown from the machine and eventually collided with a pole supporting floral displays close to the junction with Fife Street.
He suffered multiple injures, including a broken neck, chest fractures, spleen and liver damage and the loss of his left arm.
As well as alcohol in his system, a toxicology report showed evidence that Mr Hall had low levels of cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines and the antihistamine chlorpheniramine in his blood.
Deputy state pathologist Dr Alastair Bentley said that although the antihistamine was a type available over the counter, it “can impair riding ability, especially when taken with alcohol”.
Damien Coll, a forensic expert in road traffic collision, attended the scene of the crash. Mr Coll’s investigation concluded that Mr Hall had been travelling at between 36mph and 51mph when his bike struck the central reservation, because it “was not steered sufficiently to the left”.
Although the bike’s rear tyre was badly worn, the expert said it would have had no bearing on the accident as the road was dry and the bike was not cornering sharply at the time.
Mr Coll said the motorcycle was in a generally good condition and added: “The was nothing to indicate there was any collision with any other vehicle.”
A friend who had been at a party in the White City area with Mr Hall a short time before his death told coroner Suzanne Anderson that he drove Mr Hall away from the party in the early hours of the morning.
Ian Gillespie said Mr Hall, who was employed as a chef, had to go to work and was anxious to get back to Mr Gillespie’s Parkmount Street home to collect a bag containing work clothes.
Mr Gillespie said he had no idea his friend was intending to drive but, almost as soon as he had dropped him off, he noticed a motorcycle without a rider skidding up the main road as he was about to exit a side street.
Mr Gillespie discovered Mr Hall lying further along the road: “I knelt down beside him and tried to find a pulse but I couldn’t,” he said.
Mr Hall’s mother, Carole Hall, paid an emotional tribute to her son after the inquest.
“He was a really good person. He just lived for Jack. Jack is my wee grandson, Eddie’s son. He just lived for him,” Mrs Hall said.
Concluding the inquest hearing in Belfast, the coroner said: “As he was riding his motorcycle along York Road towards his home, he lost control of the vehicle and it struck the kerb of a central island on the road prior to the junction with Fife Street. The motorcycle and rider continued countrywards on the city-bound side of the road and impacted the footpath and a metal pole supporting hanging flower pots.”
Ms Anderson added: “As a result of the impact Mr Hall sustained multiple injuries which were rapidly fatal. Life was declared extinct at 6.50am on 11 July 2015. A post mortem examination revealed that at the time of his death his blood alcohol level was approximately two times greater than the legal drink-drive level. There were also low levels of cocaine, amphetamine, MDMA (ecstasy) and chlorphenamine, in his bloodstream.”