A FAMILY have made an impassioned warning about the of the dangers of drink driving after a mother-of-two was killed by an intoxicated driver as she drove home from a choir rehearsal.

Amy Purvis, 36, of Richmond, North Yorkshire, died after a head on collision on the A66 between Bowes and Greta Bridge, near Barnard Castle, on December 14 last year, an inquest heard. 

The professional voice coach and choir leader was taken to James Cook Hospital with "unsurvivable" injuries and died two days later.

The Northern Echo: Amy PurvisAmy Purvis

Charles William Wheatley, 58, who was driving a Nissan X-Trail which collided with her, died at the scene.

He had a blood alcohol reading of 203mg per 100ml - more than twice the legal limit of 80mg.

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A hearing at Crook Coroners' Court was told that Mr Wheatley had no valid driver's licence, because he suffered from epilepsy, and had not taken his medication to keep his condition under control.

Speaking on behalf of the family after the hearing, mother Sheila Purvis said: “We continue to miss Amy every day but hope that her unnecessary death will act as a deterrent to anyone who thinks that driving under the influence of alcohol is ever acceptable.

“We'd again like to thank everyone involved in Amy's care following the collision which took her life in December last year, including Durham Constabulary who have been a great support to us since then, the emergency services, and the staff of James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough.

“We would also like to thank the members of the public who were first on the scene who made sure that Amy knew she was not alone. Your kindness has given us much comfort and we are very grateful.”

Miss Purvis was driving home in a Toyota Yaris after a rehearsal in Barnard Castle, when Mr Wheatley driving westerly, from the opposite direction, turned right into a farm entrance – colliding head on with her.

The inquest was told Amy was initially conscious, but after that lost consciousness and was taken to hospital with multiple limb injuries and carotid artery injuries.

Returning a conclusion of death in a road traffic collision, senior coroner for Durham and Darlington Dr Leslie Hamilton said: "The law does not allow me to return a conclusion of unlawful killing, because the car was not deliberately used to injure a person.

“I also cannot indicate criminal liability.”

He added, Mr Wheatley should not have been driving a vehicle.

Eyewitnesses described seeing Mr Wheatley's car veer into the path of Miss Purvis' car, colliding in a "fireball" on a single carriageway stretch of the road. 

Forensic colllision investigator PC Jason Coverdale said CCTV was obtained from a nearby pub showed Mr Wheatley having two pints before he left.

The alcohol would have likely caused his driving to be impaired, he added.

PC Coverdale said: "Mr Wheatley had been living at Rokeby Grange Farm for the past three to four months and was likely turning right at the junction to head home.

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"in my opinion the collision was more likely the result of him misjudging the distance of the uncoming Toyota Yaris or failing to see it, possibly due to a medical episode and or intoxication."

The inquest was attended by Miss Purvis' partner Steven Richardson, parents Owen and Sheila Purvis and sisters Beth Purvis and Katie Chappell. 

Miss Purvis worked as a teaching assistant at Carmel College in Darlington and was a leader and founder of Euphoria and Youthphoria choirs, based in Barnard Castle. She was also involved with Deerbolt Ladies Choir in Teesdale.

Inspector Mick Todd, of Durham Police said: “This was a truly tragic incident, and our thoughts remain with the family and friends of all involved at this difficult time.

“This terrible tragedy should serve as a warning to others of the utterly devastating consequences of drinking and driving. It can take lives and shatter families – please, don’t do it.”

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