'My 10-year-old daughter still cries for her doting granddad' – Woman whose father choked on Dublin Bus
A devastated family are calling on Dublin Bus to improve their emergency protocol after they claimed their father was “left to die”.
Father-of-two Seamus Farrell (56) died in May last year after choking on a piece of ham while travelling on the 46A bus.
His two daughters, Joanna Farrell and Rachel Dixon, feel their father’s life could have been saved had the driver, who claims he wasn’t trained in first aid, reacted more appropriately.
Joanna said her ten-year-old daughter Elle still cries over the loss of her “doting” grandfather.
“We were first told when he died that he had a heart attack. We didn’t know anything about him choking until three months later when the coroner contacted us and said a piece of meat was found in his throat,” she told Independent.ie.
“It’s been so heart-breaking for us as we were all so close. I would have seen my dad three or four times a day and all the kids loved him.”
As part of the inquest into Mr Farrell’s death, Joanna and her sister Rachel had to go through an “extremely distressing” review of CCTV footage from the bus to see what happened on the day their father choked to death.
“He was sitting down but never got off at the last stop. Everyone else got off. We then seen the bus driver exit his cab and look in my dad’s direction. He then made a personal phone call for two minutes while off the bus.
"Then he walked down to my dad, poked him in the arm and went back to his cab again. He rang emergency services and just sat there scrolling on his phone afterwards while waiting for the ambulance to come," Joanna said.
The inquest held last Friday determined her father died by choking.
Bus driver Abandkata Camara told the Coroners Court he had not received any first aid instruction as part of his training and said he had followed company protocol by calling the control office and waiting in his cab for assistance.
He also said he originally thought Mr Farrell was drunk and there was nothing serious wrong.
“When he got on he was drunk, he was having difficulty walking. He was blocking the aisle as he could not find his pass. I asked him to please take a seat,” he told the court.
Joanna was upset at the claims her father was drunk and that the driver was worried for his safety.
“Our dad was a 56-year-old man who got on a bus with his shopping bags on a Thursday evening after a few quiet pints, how could you be scared of him,” she questioned.
Ms Farrell says her and her sister now try to use Dublin Bus as little as possible because they find travelling on the 46A too heart-breaking.
“We used to use Dublin Bus a lot more than we use it now. We still do use it if we need to but we try to avoid it. I do be sitting there thinking ‘is this the same bus my dad died on?’”
CCTV footage showed Mr Camara stepping off the bus at 5.01pm. At 5.02pm he is shown getting back onto the bus and walking down and checking on the man slumped in his seat.
25 minutes later the ambulance service arrived. When the ambulance arrived, CPR was carried out but the Dubliner was pronounced dead at the Mater Hospital.
Joanna says in the days following the inquest, she has wondered why the emergency services did not give Mr Camara any advice about what to do.
“Another thing we were saying was that normally when you ring for emergency services the ambulance instructs you what to do while you wait for them to come. Why was none of that done while they were waiting on the ambulance? That wasn’t brought up in the inquest,” she said.
Dublin Bus representatives called out to offer their condolences to the family.
She said her and her sister have decided to speak out because they want the issue to be highlighted and for Dublin Bus to improve their protocol in situations like this.
“What if a child starts choking one day, or an old lady collapses, is the driver going to sit in his cab and wait half an hour for an ambulance? They should be trained in first-aid.”
Dr Gallagher, who carried out the inquest, returned a narrative verdict setting out the circumstances of the death and said she would write to Dublin Bus outlining the family’s concerns about company protocol in dealing with emergencies like this.