Tuesday 20 November 2018

'Those last memories are just horrific' - family still haunted by mother's death

  • Mother-of-two Maura Porter killed just 150 metres from her home in Carndonagh, Co Donegal
  • She was returning home from her local church on December 30, 2013
  • Inquest into her death revealed how it took 50 minutes for the emergency ambulance to reach Ms Porter after it travelled from Letterkenny
Maura Porter waited 50 minutes for an ambulance
Maura Porter waited 50 minutes for an ambulance

Stephen Maguire

The family of a woman who was killed in a traffic accident have said they are still haunted by her death each day.

Mother-of-two Maura Porter was killed just 150 metres from her home in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, as she returned home from her local church on December 30, 2013.

Evidence heard during the inquest into her death revealed how it took 50 minutes for the emergency ambulance to reach Ms Porter after it travelled from Letterkenny.

The inquest found that Ms Porter died as a result of misadventure.

However, speaking on behalf of her family, Ms Porter's daughter Davina said they still have unanswered questions.

Waiting

Teacher Davina said she lost her best friend on the day her mother was killed.

"She was a human person who walked and talked and put everyone else before herself. I lost my best friend that evening," she said.

Victim: Maura Porter waited 50 minutes for an ambulance
Victim: Maura Porter waited 50 minutes for an ambulance

"She was left on a wet, cold road, struggling to breathe with awful injuries and those last memories are just horrific.

"After almost five years we are still waiting, waiting, waiting and today we are left with loads of questions which are still not answered.

"We're haunted by those memories and we drive by this location every day as it's only 150 metres from our home."

She also said that while her family had nothing but praise for front-line ambulance staff, they had serious concerns about the reaction times of ambulance services in rural Ireland.

"I want to say the paramedics who came that night were excellent and we appreciate all they did for mum," she said.

"However, they called it rapid deployment but it is anything but because it is not working for people in rural areas."

Earlier in the inquest at Buncrana Courthouse, Ms Porter's heartbroken husband Neil told how he knelt down at his wife's side and tried to comfort her while she lay on the road.

National Ambulance Service director Dr Cathal O'Donnell revealed how there were just nine ambulances available for all Co Donegal on the evening.

However, five of those ambulances had been delayed between two and four-and-a-half hours at Letterkenny University Hospital trying to admit patients to the hospital.

The normal ambulance based in Ms Porter's hometown of Carndonagh was en route to an emergency call between Malin and Letterkenny.

An advanced paramedic team dispatched from Letterkenny University Hospital did reach Ms Porter at 6.25pm.

However, an adequately-equipped emergency ambulance only reached Ms Porter at 6.35pm, 50 minutes after the initial 999 call.

It took her to Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry and she died at 11.45pm from her injuries.

The tragedy sparked a review of ambulance response times in the region.

The key finding of the report was that the ambulance offload delay at Letterkenny University Hospital for several hours led to the depletion of services.

The pathologist who carried out the post-mortem, Dr James Lynas, declined to give evidence at the inquest.

However, coroner Dr Denis McCauley read the details of his report to the inquest, which found that Ms Porter suffered injuries including damage to the skull, brain damage and bleeding in the lungs.

Delay

The coroner asked the jury to examine the actions of each party on the night when making its finding. The jury returned a unanimous verdict of death by misadventure.

The jury also added a rider, "that the National Ambulance Service and the HSE minimise and look at as much as practical the offload delay of patients from ambulances to hospitals".

Dr McCauley said he wanted to stress that the verdict of misadventure in no way apportioned blame on anyone but it was a description of the events.

Herald

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