Mum, 32, dies after she drove home ‘significantly’ drunk from night out celebrating passing paramedic exams

Sarah Giffen-Smith lost control of her car and crashed into a tree

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A young mum and army veteran died after getting into her car drunk and crashing into a tree while driving home.

Sarah Giffen-Smith, 32, was “significantly intoxicated” when she got into her Audi A1 on the night of 14 October last year, an inquest heard.

The 32-year-old had been out celebrating passing her exams to become a paramedic earlier in the evening. She lost control of her car as she drove around the right-hand bend in West Paddock, Leyland, and across a grassed area before smashing into a tree.

Ms Giffen-Smith had to be cut out of her car by firefighters and was taken by ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital where she had surgery to try and repair her heavily damaged liver, but she was sadly pronounced dead the following day.

Sarah Giffen-Smith lost control of her car and crashed into a tree (Photo: GoFundMe / LEP)Sarah Giffen-Smith lost control of her car and crashed into a tree (Photo: GoFundMe / LEP)
Sarah Giffen-Smith lost control of her car and crashed into a tree (Photo: GoFundMe / LEP)

At an inquest held at Preston Coroner’s Court on Monday (27 February), collision investigator PC Brendan Williams said an examination of her car found no defects and she had been wearing her seatbelt at the time of the crash. Marks on the road and grassed area indicated that Ms Giffen-Smith had not attempted to brake after her car left the road, ITV News reports.

PC Williams said: “The vehicle had left the road to its offside, hit the kerb, travelled across the grass then across the junction with Jubilee Court before colliding with a tree. There weren’t any witnesses but there was some CCTV from a property which showed the latter stage of the collision.

“The vehicle had just negotiated a right-hand bend. It just appeared that the driver had continued to turn right and then left the road. There was no attempt to return back to the carriageway and no evidence the vehicle was braking.

“If a vehicle is braking when it goes onto the grass, which was very soggy at the time, the wheels tend to lock before the ABS releases and you get drag marks that pull the grass up but there was no evidence that was the case. There was nothing that suggested anything other than driver error.”

PC Williams added that a toxicology test showed that Ms Giffen-Smith, mum to two boys, had been “significantly intoxicated” at the time of the crash, and her blood alcohol reading was 228mcg - almost three times the legal limit for driving of 80mcg.

Assistant Coroner Kate Bisset said the young mum had been celebrating passing her paramedic examinations before getting into her car on the night of the incident. A post mortem CT scan revealed that her liver was “shattered and in multiple parts” and her cause of death was given as traumatic liver injury.

Returning a conclusion of road traffic collision, the coroner added: “Sarah Smith died at the Royal Preston Hospital from injuries sustained in a road traffic collision. She had consumed alcohol before getting into her vehicle.”

A fundraiser was set up by the friends of Ms Giffen-Smith following her death to help her husband Peter pay her funeral costs, which raised more than £6,000.

Pauline Evans, who set up the GoFundMe page, wrote: “I am raising funds on behalf of Sarah’s family. Sarah, a beautiful young mother of two boys, tragically lost her life in a car accident on 14/10/22 in Leyland. Please help me in raising as much as we can to give Sarah the send-off she deserves and support her two boys who are now left without a mum.

“Sarah was a beautiful soul and served in the army for 10 years. She was selfless, kind and a great mum. Anyone who knew Sarah would say she was the life and soul of the party with an amazing sense of humour and life will never be the same without her. Sarah we love you forever and always.”

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