Wednesday 20 September 2017

'Terrible set of tragedies' - man died in freak accident while preparing for his mother's wake

Elaine Bowens, her late husband Pa and their two children. Photo: Facebook
Elaine Bowens, her late husband Pa and their two children. Photo: Facebook

Louise Roseingrave

A MAN (44) died after he was thrown in the air and struck a trailer while attempting to erect a street lamp to cater for mourners at his mother's wake.

Patrick Bowens from Cloonfad, Ballyhaunis, Co Roscommon was taking a 20ft street lamp - which stood on a cube of concrete - off the back of a trailer when the accident happened.

The father of three had gone to another man's house to collect the light and drove it back to his home place on a trailer behind a jeep on October 19 2015. Mr Bowens' mother had died the previous day, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

"I met Pa and arranged to erect a street light for his mother's funeral. He picked up the light which was between 18 and 20 ft long with a concrete cube at the bottom. Pa drove the jeep and I drove behind him in my van," Christopher Swanick said.

In the yard, he said the heavy concrete cube fell to the ground sending the street lamp up in the air as the two men helped to move it off the trailer.

"We were going to position it where we needed the light. We were lifting it off with the aid of a strap. It came to the edge of the trailer and then it stood up in a pincer effect," Mr Swanick said. Patrick Bowens was thrown into the air by the momentum of the street lamp. His brother Michael Bowens was in the yard when the accident happened.

Patrick 'Pa' Bowens
Patrick 'Pa' Bowens

"It threw Pa up in the air, he hit the trailer on the way down, he fell lifeless to the ground," Michael Bowens said in his deposition.

Garda Gerard McDonagh of Ballinlough Garda Station said the family were preparing the yard for people due to arrive for the wake.

"When the concrete hit the ground it threw the pole up high and Patrick fell into the yard. It happened very fast," he said.

Patrick Bowens was rushed by air ambulance to Beaumont Hospital where medics operating on swelling in his brain found he had suffered an unsurvivable brain injury.

He had sustained a skull fracture with bruising and swelling to the left side of his brain. He died two days later in hospital.

The cause of death was hypoxic ischemic brain injury due to severe head injury due to a fall. The man's wife Elaine Bowens sadly passed away last February just weeks before her husband's inquest. Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of accidental death.

The coroner commended the donation of Mr Bowens' organs and sympathised with the family on the "terrible series of tragedies" that have befallen them.

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