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Monday 1 September 2014

Pensioner falls to death while cleaning window of fourth-floor flat

Sam Griffin

Published 10/07/2013 | 05:00

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NEIGHBOURS heard an 82-year-old woman shout for help before falling to her death from a fourth-floor window in her inner-city Dublin apartment.

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Sarah Phelan, otherwise known as Sadie, was trying to clean her windows when she slipped at her home in the Avondale House flats on North Cumberland Road on Monday night.

Several neighbours told the Irish Independent how they heard the pensioner's cries for help as she desperately clung on to the window-ledge.

Neighbour Stephen McCluskey (66) said he saw Mrs Phelan "hang on for about five seconds" before falling.

"She was hanging on with one hand and I could see her getting weaker and weaker. She shouted, 'help, help' and then I started screaming for help and trying to get other people's attention but there was nothing I could do," he said.

"I could see her panicking and I saw her try to put her right (hand) on the window-ledge as she held on with her left, but she was just too weak to support herself."

Mary McDonnell, who lived directly across from Mrs Phelan, also saw her fall to her death, with her daughter's friend Cameron Byrne (13).

"I saw her coming down after she shouted out. She hit the ground and kind of bounced back up again for a second. Then we all ran out to her to see if we could do anything for her.

"People said not to touch her because she was on her side in the recovery position," Mary said. One neighbour attempted to give the 82-year-old CPR while waiting for the emergency services to respond.

Mrs Phelan was revived for a time and taken to the nearby Mater Hospital where she was later pronounced dead. Gardai are investigating the incident.

Mrs Phelan, who was described as a "cleanaholic" and "a devout Catholic", worked as a cleaner with CIE for over 50 years. She had lived all her life in the Avondale House flats and several family members also live there, including her niece and carer Audrey Teeling, who was the first on the scene.

"She was always cleaning and couldn't pass a piece of dirt without picking it up," Audrey said.

"She went to mass every week and put €15 into the altar collections every Saturday night. Every Saturday evening at 6pm she'd be dressed and ready to go. She would have went every day but couldn't because of her arthritis.

"She was great with children even though she never had any herself. Everyone around here knew her and we'll all miss her terribly."

Mrs Phelan, previously Sadie Teeling before she married Thomas Phelan, was born in the Avondale House apartments in 1931. She was one of 15 siblings, many of whom still live in the complex.

Her husband Thomas died in March 2007 after suffering a short illness. Sadie did not have any children.

Irish Independent

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