A MUM and her childhood pal were killed when their car plunged into a freezing river in a Christmas Day tragedy, an inquest heard.
Rachel Curtis, 36, was driving in her Mini with Jay Jenkins, also 36, when they crashed through a barrier on the River Tawe in Swansea.
The car sunk to the bottom of the river, with Rachel and Jay discovered at around 3am on Christmas Day.
An inquest heard Rachel was more than double the drink-drive limit when the crash took place.
She was seen enjoying a large glass of wine during Christmas drinks after finishing work at a bar.
Acting senior coroner Colin Phillips said he would "never be absolutely certain" why the car left the road.
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Swansea Guildhall was told Rachel and Jay had been friends since school and knew each other for over 20 years.
On the tragic night, Jay had gone out to "socialise with friends and have a few drinks to enjoy Christmas".
He met up with Rachel when she finished work and the pair went to two bars in the city centre.
The inquest was told no other vehicles were involved in the crash and there was no evidence of a defect on the highway "in terms of road safety or lighting".
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The barrier Rachel's car went through was built to withstand collisions of up to 30mph.
Both Rachel and Jay's cause of death was given as drowning.
The coroner said: "We cannot be sure of the speed although it was suggested that it exceeded the speed limit to go through the barrier.
"It is clear that the driver of the vehicle lost control of it through driver error – possibly a medical event might have played a factor.
"We will never be absolutely certain what happened."
Mr Phillips returned a verdict that the pair died as a result of road traffic collision.
Rachel's family said in a tribute: "Rachel was a funny, intelligent and unique person. She was extremely talented and creative in nails and art. She worked at the Liberty Stadium teaching therapeutic art and nail art.
“She was a self-defence instructor and an elite security instructor, trained as a close protection officer and door supervisor.
"She helped raise money for the 'Jack Lewis Foundation' which is a suicide prevention charity. Rachel also raised money for 'Matthews House' a homeless charity and was involved in youth projects helping young girls.
"Rachel will be greatly missed by everyone who knew her, especially her 14 year old son."
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While Jay's family said: "Jay was a kind, genuine soul who was always helping other people. The local community are devastated.”
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