Sunday 15 July 2018

Tech worker died after falling backwards through swing doors while at wedding, inquest hears

Patrick Donnelly
Patrick Donnelly

Dearbhla Geraghty

A 41 year old man, who stumbled backwards through swing doors while attending a wedding last summer, suffered catastrophic head injuries in the process, an Inquest into his death heard.

Coroner for West Galway, Dr Ciaran MacLoughlin, viewed the CCTV footage taken from the Claregalway Hotel on the night in question, and said that the man had not been in a position to break his fall.

Patrick Donnelly from Ballygar, Co Galway, was a product builder with Boston Scientific at the time of his accident in the early hours of Sunday, August 6, last. 

Staff at the hotel were alerted just after 2am that a man had collapsed in the function room, where a wedding reception was being held.

The DJ kept the party going, but requested that any doctors or nurses in the room would make their way to the conservatory, where Mr Donnelly had been taken. Staff brought a defibrillator, and CPR was started.

A staff member told the inquiry at Galway Courthouse that after 60 compressions “he seemed to come back to life,” but he had actually aspirated the contents of his stomach. He was taken to University Hospital Galway, but all attempts to save him failed.

In the meantime, Gardaí were having difficulty identifying him. Mr Donnelly’s personal belongings had been left behind at the hotel, and Gardaí got in touch to ask the hotel manager to help.

They asked him to find Mr Donnelly’s car in the car park, and pass on the registration number to them. 

Through this, they attended the Donnelly family home to inform his parents that he had been taken to hospital. When his family arrived, they were told that his brain stem was dying. They made the decision to donate his heart, liver, and kidneys, and he was kept alive for this purpose until the following day, August 7. He was pronounced dead at 5.18pm.

Consultant pathologist, Dr Ramadan Shatwan, said that while there was no external sign of trauma, Mr Donnelly had suffered a fracture to his skull as a result of his fall, which in turn caused severe aspirational pneumonia. He concluded that alcohol toxicity was a factor.

Coroner, Dr MacLoughlin, returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

“I saw the CCTV, he staggered to the door, fell through the door into the passageway, and onto the back of his head,” he said.

“He wasn’t in a position to break his fall, and his head took the force of the fall. It resulted in a catastrophic skull fracture and, as a result of that, he aspirated (vomited) the contents of his stomach, through which he developed pneumonia, which proved fatal.”

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