A serial drug-driver who drifted onto the wrong side of the road killed Jessica Falkholt and her family, according to an inquest.
Jessica, 28, her sister Annabelle, 21, and parents Lars and Vivian killed in the horrible crash as they left a family Christmas lunch in Ulladulla, Australia on December 26, 2017.
Craig Whitall, 50, a long-time drug user, swerved into the wrong side of the highway and rammed his Toyota Prado into the Falkholts’ Mazda SUV, instantly killing Lars and Vivian.
Whitall was also killed on the spot.
According to News.com.au, he had potentially deadly quantities of prescription drugs in his system, according to the inquest.
A post-mortem found a mix of drugs in Whitall’s body after his death, including methylamphetamine – or’ice’ – methadone, diazepam, and antidepressants, according to Counsel Assisting the Coroner Donna Ward.
On Tuesday, an inquest into the deaths of the Falkholts and Whitall heard that in the months leading up to the deadly incident, he was “unravelling.”
According to reports, he had been going to hospitals and medical clinics to acquire more doses of methadone and the antidepressant deptran.
Whitall had gone to Shoalhaven Memorial Hospital on the day of the horrific incident, requesting more methadone.
He was given four 5mg diazepam tablets, also known as Valium.
Before the incident, witnesses said Whitall’s automobile was driving erratically, including attempting to overtake a car hauling a caravan.
“Mr Falkholt was unable to prevent the collision that ensued as a result of Mr Whitall’s failure to navigate a road bend,” Ward said.
Members of the public helped Jessica and Annabelle get out of the Mazda’s back seats before the fire started.
The sisters, on the other hand, were both seriously injured and died a few days later.
Whitall, according to Ward, had a “awful” driving record dating back to 1983, including convictions for driving without a licence, driving while intoxicated, and reckless driving.
The first record of Whitall applying for his learner permit, according to the inquest, was in 2016.
“Thus, in this instance, the court is examining the cumulative effect of a variety of pharmaceuticals and illegal narcotics in circumstances where the significantly increased doxepin (deptran) concentration detected at autopsy was far within the potentially dangerous or deadly range,” Ward explained.
The inquest heard that the levels of deptran in Whitall’s body at the time of his death were so high that they might have caused him lethargy, blurred vision, and “severe impairment of his motor skills.”
“Despite his weaknesses, Mr Whitall did the best he could for his family, and they love and miss him,” Ward said.
“It’s all too easy to forget about the Falkholt family.”
“They were innocent and ordinary in the sense that they were just travelling home after a Christmas gathering with extended family, as we all know.”
The investigation is still ongoing.