RAF veteran died after crashing into tree with five times over usual dose of ‘sedating’ antihistamine in his system

David Grayson died following the crash on a country roadDavid Grayson died following the crash on a country road
David Grayson died following the crash on a country road
A retired businessman died when he crashed his car into a tree on a country road with up to five times the recommended dose of a ‘sedating’ antihistamine in his system, an inquest heard.

David Grayson, 93, was killed instantly when his Nissan Qashqai ‘drifted’ across the carriageway at Daskett Hill near Sheriff Hutton last April.

No other vehicles were involved in the collision and there were no witnesses who were able to say what caused him to leave the road and strike the tree as he was driving to York from his home in Beadlam, near Nawton.

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The inquest at North Yorkshire Coroner’s Court on Wednesday heard that no evidence of a medical episode that could have caused Mr Grayson to lose control of his car was found at postmortem, but toxicological tests revealed the presence of an over-the-counter antihistamine at four to five times the normal therapeutic level. Though the allergy relief drug was known to cause drowsiness, the pathologist noted that there could sometimes be ‘redistribution’ of the substance in the body after death, and that the true amount ingested by Mr Grayson could have been lower.

David Grayson was working until he was nearly 80David Grayson was working until he was nearly 80
David Grayson was working until he was nearly 80

The pathologist said he could not exclude a ‘cardiac event’ as these episodes often left no traces during examination.

Mr Grayson’s son Andrew confirmed that his father was being treated for cancer and had complained of severe chest pains the night before the crash, though he felt ‘fine’ on the morning he set off. He added that he was surprised his father had negotiated two bends that would have required him to brake before the collision occurred on a straight section of the 60mph road.

North Yorkshire Police forensic collision investigator Nigel Varney said he had found no defects to the car or road surface that could have caused the crash, and said there was ‘no evidence’ Mr Grayson had braked once he started drifting towards the grass verge. His speed at the time was unknown.

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Mr Varney also made reference to the sedating effects of the antihistamine and added that a medical event could not be discounted.

However, assistant coroner Catherine Cundy decided that on a balance of probabilities, she was not able to conclude that the antihistamine had been a contributory factor because of the chance of postmortem redistribution. She added that there was no evidence the chest pain had recurred or that the cancer had contributed.

Her ‘only clear finding’ was that the vehicle had struck the tree and she recorded a conclusion of death in a road traffic collision.

Mr Grayson had completed National Service with the RAF, and started work as a clerk at Ryedale Laundry in Kirbymoorside in 1950. By the 1970s, he and his business partner owned the company, which took in linen from hotels and guesthouses in the area. He did not retire until 2008, when he was 78. His wife Rita predeceased him and he left son Andrew, daughter Ruth and five grandchildren.

He was also a talented table tennis player who competed in local leagues.

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