Home And Away crash: Meds history probed
An inquest into the death of Home And Awaystar Jessica Falkholt and her family in a horrific Boxing Day car crash will probe the prescription medication records and doctors of the man who killed them.
Ms Falkholt, her sister Annabelle and parents Lars and Vivian died following the devastating collision as they left a Christmas lunch at Ulladulla on the Princes Highway on December 26, 2017.
Craig Whitall was driving home from hospital when he veered onto the wrong side of the road and slammed into the Falkholts' car, killing himself, Lars and Vivian instantly when the cars burst into flames.
Jessica Falkholt, 29, died on January 17, 2018, after undergoing surgery but could not recover. Her younger sister Annabelle, 21, died in hospital three days after the crash.
At the NSW Coroner's Court on Tuesday counsel assisting the inquest Donna Ward said reports at the time stating Mr Whitall - a known heroin user - was returning home from a methadone clinic were incorrect.
He had presented to Shoalhaven Hospital that day, and the day before, but had not received methadone. The court heard a post-mortem found no methadone in his system.
"Which is why the issues list looks at a more complex picture, including toxicology results for Mr Whitall and the likely effects of various prescription drugs, including methadone, but also doxepin and diazepam," Ms Ward told the court.
"And there were also some other some drugs detected in lesser quantities which may or may not have contributed to the crash."
Doxepin is a medication used to treat anxiety and depression, while diazepam is better known as Valium.
His death and those of the four Falkholts will be investigated in a joint coronial inquest hearing set to be held in June 2021 due to delays caused by the outbreak of coronavirus and the Black Summer bushfires.
Ms Ward told State Coroner Teresa O'Sullivan counsel had requested statements from various doctors on the NSW south coast who had treated Mr Whitall over the years.
The medications prescribed to the 50-year-old will be a particular area of interest, with counsel also requesting a copy of his prescription records from the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
"I don't anticipate that all those doctors will be called to give evidence at the inquest," Ms Ward said.
"The questions we ask and the answers we get will come into the brief and hopefully give Your Honour factual findings based on that evidence."
Ms Ward said Transport for NSW had been contacted to provide details about Mr Whitall's driving record. He had dozens of convictions and was once banned from driving for nine years.
The court heard the family of Lars Falkholt, 69, were closely following the events of the inquest in his native Sweden.
Mr Whitall's family is also keeping track of the inquest.
Originally published as Home And Away crash: Meds history probed