Thursday 22 February 2018

Tragic father choked on food twice at same restaurant

Gerry Cunneen
Gerry Cunneen

Louise Rosengrave

A FATHER-OF-TWO died after choking on a piece of steak at a seaside restaurant - the second time in a month he had choked at the same venue.

Gerry Cunneen (58) took just one mouthful before he got into difficulty, an inquest into his death heard. He was dining at the Salty Dog bar and bistro on Strand Street in Skerries on December 9, 2015.

He ordered a fillet steak, witness Mandy Galvin said.

"The steak was cooked very rare. He took one bite and I knew he was in difficulty," she said.

Mr Cunneen did not panic and was conscious but did not speak, Ms Galvin told Dublin Coroner's Court.

"He kept nodding, indicating he was okay. He was conscious. He got one piece of steak up and put it on his plate, but he was still in difficulty," Ms Galvin said.

Mr Cunneen collapsed and bar staff called 999. Ms Galvin ran outside for help and a taxi-driver and friend of the deceased came into the bar to help.

Dublin Fire Brigade advanced paramedic Dermot Murray attended the scene.


He said a passing doctor, Dr Philip D'Arcy, came in to help and removed a large piece of meat from Mr Cunneen's airway. CPR was started before Mr Cunneen was rushed to hospital.

Ms Galvin said Mr Cunneen also choked at the same premises a month earlier but recovered after a "bang on the back" from a fellow diner.

Mr Cunneen's wife Frances said she was called at around 7.15pm and told that he was unwell. She rushed to the Mater Hospital where her husband was admitted to the cardiology department before he was transferred to Beaumont Hospital. Doctors conducted an MRI scan and found that Mr Cunneen's brain would not recover. He died in hospital surrounded by family on December 11, 2015.

The cause of death was hypoxic brain injury secondary to an acute cardiac arrest following a choking episode. The autopsy revealed Mr Cunneen - from Shenick Park in Skerries -suffered from heart disease but he was unaware of it.

"I think the choking triggered a cardiac arrest," Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said, returning a verdict of death by misadventure.

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