'We never got to hold his hand'
A DISTRAUGHT mother and father said at their son's inquest that they were left waiting for hours at Sligo Regional Hospital not knowing what condition he was in.
Coroner Desmond Moran admitted that there was a severe breakdown in communication with the hospital and Charles and Josephine Bruen.
Their 18 year old son Jonathan had been in a two vehicle collision on the Ballymote to Sligo road early on the morning of March 2nd 2009.
He suffered what was not believed to be life threatening injuries and was taken to Sligo General Hospital where he underwent surgery for severe leg fractures.
However, Mr Bruen didn't recover from his subsequent injuries and died in intensive care the following afternoon at 12.35pm.
His mother, Josephine told the inquest that a doctor came in and told the family that everything was going to be alright.
"They said that he was a fine, strong lad and that he would pull through, but he didn't."
She tearfully added: "We could have gone to him, held his hand."
His father said that they were sitting in a room from 12pm on the day of the accident and were told that Jonathan was in surgery.
"We were told that we weren't allowed to see him although he was asking for us."
The extensive orthopedic surgery lasted until 9.30pm.
Josephine said: "We asked a couple of times where he was – we were in the room until 9.30pm and nobody told us anything.
"Nobody came to us at all."
Coroner Dr Desmond Moran said that it was a severe failure in communication and said that the Bruen family deserved a letter of communication from Sligo Regional Hospital.
"It is the least they can get. They definitely should have been informed. I think that the hospital should talk with the family."
Mrs Bruen asked: "That won't bring him back, will it?"
Dr Moran described the young man's death as 'very unfortunate'.
"It looked in the beginning that his injuries were not life threatening, time unfortunately showed otherwise."
Cause of death was due to fat embolism to the lungs, brain and kidneys, caused by multiple fractures related to a road traffic accident.
Dr Moran described the condition as an unfortunate side effect that occasionally happens after an accident.
"It appeared to be a very innocent case early on that unfortunately became very serious."
The accident happened on a straight stretch of the R293 road at Deroon, Ballymote at 7.30am on March 2nd, 2009.
Mr Bruen was the sole occupant of a silver Mitsubishi Lancer that was involved in a head on collision with a Renault Megane, driven by Brendan Harrison.
Mr Bruen was travelling to his home in Hollywood Road, Ballaghaderreen from his nightshift work which he had recently started.
Mr Harrison, a self employed bus driver, was travelling toward Sligo to pick up his bus to begin school runs.
His son, Gavin, was a front seat passenger.
Mr Harrison told the inquest that he saw an approaching car come over the white line onto his side of the road.
It appeared to pick up speed and he had nowhere to go before the impact.
He tried to turn his car to the right in order to try and avoid the impact.
He said that he suffered with flashbacks every day following the accident.
Sergeant PJ Gallagher, PSV inspector, said that there was a fluid leak to the right rear wheel of the Mitsubishi Lancer but it would only have been a minor contribution if brakes were applied at the time of the collision.
There was no evidence of any brake marks.
The scene of the accident was not preserved as it wasn't believed to be a fatal scene at the time.
Dr Moran extended sympathy to the Bruen family. Sergeant Philip Maree extended sympathy on behalf of the Gardaí.
Dr Moran thanked Brendan Harrison and orthopedic Surgeon Dr Edmund Murthy for going to the inquest.
He described it as a truly sad case.