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Sunday 19 August 2018

Inquest hears how farmer treating sick calf was crushed by cow

The Dublin Coroner's Court
The Dublin Coroner's Court

Court Reporter

A farmer who suffered crush injuries after he was attacked by a cow on a farm died of multi-organ failure, an inquest heard.

Michael Walsh (65) from Donaguile, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, died at St James’s Hospital in Dublin on April 21, 2017.

The man, a retired factory operative who lived on the farm with his brother Martin Walsh, was described as a simple and private man by family members.

He was dosing calves when the accident happened on the farm at Donaguile on Friday April 7, 2017, two weeks before his death.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that some of the calves were suffering from scour and Mr Walsh was treating them with medication.

There were no animal handling facilities at the farm, the inquest heard.

The calves were young and as such were easy to handle, but they had not been separated from the cows for the purpose of dosing.

Mr Walsh was fatally injured when one of the cows rushed at him causing extensive crush injuries. He was brought to St Luke’s General Hospital in Kilkenny where he was admitted to the intensive care unit and administered painkillers. Medical examinations revealed he had suffered two broken collar bones and a number of broken ribs. His lungs collapsed due to his injuries and he suffered bleeding around the lungs as a result.

Mr Walsh was stabilised but it was clear he had extensive chest injuries. His breathing deteriorated later that day and he was intubated and ventilated to assist his breathing.

On Sunday April 10 Mr Walsh, was transferred to St James’s Hospital in Dublin where medics had difficulty stabilising his blood pressure. Part of his bowel was damaged due to lack of blood flow and the damaged tissue was removed. His condition continued to deteriorate and on April 19 the decision was made to place him in palliative care. Mr Walsh died at St James’s on April 21 2017.

The cause of death was multi-organ failure due to crush injuries following an incident on the farm at Donaguile, Co Kilkenny on April 7, according to pathologist Dr Dorinda Mullen.

Health and Safety Inspector Eddie Wall conducted a full investigation into the incident and concluded that no further action was required and no prosecution was recommended. Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

“It’s a very tragic thing to occur, especially in the context of the family’s experience, it must have been an incident of just a few seconds with this tragic outcome,” the coroner said.

There were 24 deaths in agriculture in 2017, making it the eighth year in a row that this sector recorded the highest number of work related fatalities, according to the Health and Safety Authority.


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