Coroner unable to explain crash death of Priscilla Ann Stoll, but alcohol increased risk

Priscilla Stoll

Priscilla Stoll

ALBURY coroner Tony Murray has referred to the high percentage of fatal car accidents involving alcohol when dispensing with an inquest into the death of Priscilla Ann Stoll on the Hume Highway last year.

Ms Stoll, 38, an Albury mother of four, died after her car hit a tree near Table Top between 7pm on December 5 and 6am next day.

She had packed her bags for work in Wagga and was driving alone when the accident happened a few hundred metres short of the Olympic Way turn-off.

She was discovered by a Roads and Maritime Services employee in her overturned Holden Vectra about 6am.

A highway patrolman arrived about 20 minutes later and he saw open aluminium cans of Jim Beam and Cola.

A later examination by the police engineering and investigation section revealed no mechanical defects or component failure that may have contributed to the accident.

Mr Murray said in his finding there was ample evidence to suggest Ms Stoll was braking heavily and trying to avoid the tree before hitting it.

He said she had a high blood alcohol reading, but a precise reading was difficult because it may have been contaminated by injury.

“It is my view that the alcohol consumed by the deceased did play an operative part in the accident,” Mr Murray said.

“This regretfully remains a tragic and unexplained collision, the circumstances which gave rise to the deceased coming into contact with the tree remain unknown.”

Mr Murray said RMS statistics show drink-driving is a factor in about 18 per cent of fatal crashes in NSW and 70 per cent of all fatal drink-drive crashes happen in the country.

Nine out of 10 drink-drivers in fatal crashes are male and a third of all drink-drivers in fatal accidents are aged 17 to 24 despite making up only about a seventh of all licensed drivers.

Thirty per cent of all fatal drink-drive accidents happen between 9pm and 3am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Mr Murray said a driver’s risk of having an accident rose with the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream; at 0.05 the risk is double a zero reading, seven times higher than zero at 0.08 and 25 times higher at 0.15.