THE death of British singer songwriter Colin Vearncombe, who had been living in Schull for many years, was caused by severe head injuries sustained after his car spun out of control on an icy road and crashed into another car near Cork Airport.
The jury at an inquest in Cork last week returned a verdict of accidental death after hearing evidence of how Mr Vearncombe (53), a married father of three from Corozon, Caherlusky, Schull, died in Cork University Hospital last January 26th, following a two-car collision on the Cork-Kinsale Road on January 10th.
Polish national, Zbigniew Skorupa (60) told how he had been to Cork Airport to collect his grandsons, Damian (20) and Daniel Wesolowski (16) and was returning home to Bandon via the Cork-Kinsale Road when the collision occurred, north of the Five Mile Bridge.
Mr Skorupa told how he was driving at 60kph in his VW Passat because the roads were slippery due to ice and as he approached a long left hand bend near Bowen’s Cross at around 9am, he saw a green Lexus coming at him sideways and the car appeared to be spinning on the road surface.
Mr Skorupa said that Mr Vearncombe’s car continued spinning across the road into his path of travel and he struck the Lexus with the front of his car colliding with the rear of Mr Vearncombe’s car which ended up going through a ditch and coming to a stop in a field.
It was bright at the time and traffic was light but it was cold and the roads were icy, said Mr Skoroupa, adding that neither he nor his grandson Damian were injured. However, his grandson Daniel was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was treated for a cut to his head.
Damian Wesolowksi told how they were all wearing their seatbelts when the Lexus approached them on the left hand bend and it appeared to have spun around completely when it came onto their side of the road and they collided with it.
Off duty fire officer John Walsh said that he was travelling with a colleague, Anthony McCarthy, to Cork and they already had had a few slips and skids on black ice as they began the climb up towards Cork Airport from the Five Mile, when they heard a huge bang behind them.
They turned around to discover two cars had collided and they went to tend to the occupants of both with Mr Walsh telling how he went to the Lexus and found Mr Vearncombe unconscious with his torso between the driver’s and passenger’s seats and his seatbelt was around his thigh.
Mr Walsh gave first aid to Mr Vearncombe until the emergency services arrived and he was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital, but he never regained consciousness and he died at CUH on January 26th 2016 with his family at his bedside.
Assistant state pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster said that Liverpool-born Mr Vearncombe had died from traumatic brain injury with brain swelling, contusions and bleeds, along with oxygen deprivation to the brain, due to a road traffic collision.
The inquest heard evidence from investigating officer, Gda Gillian Meaney, that Mr Skorupa was breath-tested at the scene for alcohol and found to have none in his system and a file was sent to the DPP who directed that there be no prosecution in the case.
The inquest also heard from a report by Forensic Crash Investigator, Gda Dermot Carroll, who found that the point of impact was 18m behind where Mr Skorupa’s car ended up on Mr Skorupa’s side of the road.
He concluded the collision occurred as Mr Vearncombe was driving northwards when he lost control going around a left to right hand bend and his car travelled across the road, rotating clockwise into the carriageway of Mr SKorupa’s car which was travelling southwards on its correct side of the road.
Cork City Coroner Philip Comyn asked a friend of the late Mr Vearncombe present at the inquest to convey his sympathy to Mr Vearncombe’s widow, Camilla and their three sons, Max, Marius and Milan, on their loss and he recalled his success with his 1987 hit, Wonderful Life.
After Mr Vearncombe’s death, his wife, Camilla and his sons paid tribute to the care he had received in CUH. ‘Colin received the best possible care from the expert and highly professional staff there and we are deeply grateful for everything they did,’ they said.
Mr Vearncombe, who wrote his 1985 hit as a sarcastic riposte to a series of life experiences, when his mother took ill, his first marriage ended and he found himself homeless, once said that he moved to West Cork because: ‘I like my elbow room, and eccentricity is tolerated here.’