A man who died of injuries suffered in a road traffic accident was buried before a coroner had been informed of his death.
An inquest into the death of Tadgh McGinley, aged 82, of Letterkenny, Co Donegal, heard he died of spinal chord injuries from a crash 11 days before.
However, because of an “oversight”, the coroner, Denis McCauley, was not informed of the death until after Mr McGinley had been buried.
Mr McGinley, of Larkin’s Lane, died in Letterkenny University Hospital on October 31, 2015, 11 days after he was involvedn in a road traffic collision near Woodlands national school in Letterkenny.
The inquest was told that Mr McGinley only had one remaining relative, a son, and that he lived somewhere in Canada.
However, garda attempts to contact him and to tell him about his father’s inquest, had not been successful.
Dr McCauley said Mr McGinley’s death was considered “an unnatural death”, but, due to the oversight, he was buried without an autopsy taking place. However, Dr McCauley said it was a situation that would not happen again.
He said he had the right to order an exhumation of the body, but said, in this case, it “served no good purpose”, as he had details of the injuries Mr McGinley received.
Witness John Friel said he was driving his Tesco van on a delivery at 11.20am when he was stopped at temporary traffic lights near the school. He felt a significant impact to the rear of his van.
When he got out, he saw a red Opel Corsa wedged under the back of his van and then it reversed back onto a grass verge.
There was one female passenger, who was uninjured, and Mr McGinley, the driver, who complained of a sore neck.
Mr Friel said he did not notice if Mr McGinley was wearing a seatbelt.
Teresa Boyce, the passenger, said she was a neighbour of Mr McGinley’s and she was getting a lift to a medical appointment on the day of the crash. She said she warned Mr McGinley to slow down as they approached the van, but that he was driving at “normal” speed.
Garda Paul McGuire said that there was a reasonable amount of damage done to the car, but that Mr McGinley remained conscious and coherent until brought to hospital.
Dr McCauley said an X-ray showed Mr McGinley fractured two vertebrae at the top of his neck and this affected his spinal cord, which, in turn, affected his respiration.
Over the course of a number of days, he began to deteriorate and was eventually s unable to breathe by himself and died on October 31, 2015.
Pathologist Gerry O’Dowd, who was at the inquest, said his opinion was that the spinal cord damage was the “critical injury”.
The jury returned a verdict of death from a spinal injury, as the result of a road traffic accident.
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