‘Warm and loving’ dad of three with MS died in crash while over drink-drive limit
PUBLISHED: 07:14 27 June 2019 | UPDATED: 08:53 27 June 2019
A father of three with multiple sclerosis died after his car struck a tree when he was more than three times the drink drive limit, an inquest has heard.
Kelly Woodrow, 41, had been struggling with depression and alcohol addiction for years.
He had spent the evening before his death "in good spirits" drinking at a pub in Chedgrave.
In the early hours of the next morning his Peugeot 307 left Loddon Road at Kirby Cane and struck a tree.
Mr Woodrow, who had not been wearing a seatbelt at the time, suffered a "catastrophic" head injury from which he did not recover.
At an inquest into his death on Wednesday, assistant coroner Johanna Thompson concluded it was an "alcohol-related death".
Afterwards his family described him as "a warm and loving son, brother and father".
Mr Woodrow, a truck driver, was born in Norwich and lived in Chedgrave.
Landlord at the White Horse pub in Chedgrave Simon Peck said Mr Woodrow was a regular and a "good friend" of 30 years.
When he started work at 5.30pm on October 5, Mr Woodrow was already in the pub, he said.
"I know Kelly had been drinking during the afternoon but he wasn't drunk and seemed his normal self," he added
Mr Peck said Mr Woodrow had four pints of Carlsberg before he got up to leave around 8.30pm.
"We had a standing joke whenever he left he would say; 'it's been emotional'," Mr Peck said. "He said 'I will be off' and I replied 'it's been emotional'.
"I believed he was going to go home and I don't know if he had his car with him."
Police believe Mr Woodrow then went to the Swan pub in Loddon, but it was unclear where he had been driving when the collision occurred around 12.40am.
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Mr Peck added; "I still can't believe this has happened.
"I still expect the door to open and for him to come through. He was a real character and full of life, and lived that life for the moment.
"He will be greatly missed."
Mr Woodrow had been suffering from depression and alcohol misuse as a result of his MS diagnosis, according to GP Dr John Morgan, of the Chet Valley Medical Practice.
He had last attended in April last year when he had "severe depressive symptoms" relating to his MS and alcohol use, admitting thoughts of self-harm.
He said he wanted counselling but found it "difficult to obtain due to long waits", Dr Morgan said.
According to a report from Change, Grow Live, Mr Woodrow was drinking 22-30 units of alcohol a day by July of last year.
"He stated he knew he needed to work towards abstinence though he was unsure he was ready," the report said.
Collision investigator acting sergeant Lee Smart said the Peugeot's speedometer had frozen at 42mph, and damage to the windscreen seemed to be "a result of the unrestrained driver striking the windscreen".
He said it was "reasonable to assume" Mr Woodrow had been driving at a speed greater than 42mph as he approached the bend in the road.
Mr Woodrow was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital critical care unit just after 2am after paramedics battled to revive him at the roadside for 20 minutes.
Dr Tim Leary said: "It was clear he had suffered a catastrophic injury from which he was not going to recover. He died peacefully at 10.40am."
After the inquest, Mr Woodrow's family said he would be "sadly missed by all and will always be in our hearts".
"Kelly was a warm and loving son, brother and father to his three children," they said. "He was hard-working and friendly and had an extensive circle of friends who he was always willing to help out when they needed him.
"Keep smiling Kelly."
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