Inquest hears elderly woman died after fall from ladder onto garden shears

Inquest hears elderly woman died after fall from ladder onto garden shears

By Louise Roseingrave

A 79-year-old woman who loved gardening died after a fall onto garden shears, an inquest heard.

Loreto Peel of Northland Drive, Finglas Dublin 11 died of a chest wound from the blade of her shears after she fell from a ladder while holding it.

The woman’s daughter Helen Lane visited her on the day of the fall. She said her mother loved her garden and was regularly out clipping bushes and hedges, often on the ladder.

Her father had gone to Wexford on holiday and her mother was due to follow him there so the pair hugged and kissed in the kitchen of the family home.

It was the last time Mrs Lane saw her mother alive. Later that day they spoke on the phone around 3.30pm.

“We had a conversation about childcare arrangements. She was out in the back garden. She loved her garden,” Ms Lane said.

The following day - June 23, 2016 - Mrs Lane was contacted by a friend of her mother’s who had become concerned because she was not responding to calls.

She tried calling her mother’s mobile and landline before deciding to leave work to call to the house.

At 11am Mrs Lane left work and drove the five minutes to the family home where she found her mother lying in the back garden, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

“Her legs were caught on the ladder. The garden shears was very close to her right hand side and her right hand which was outstretched,” Mrs Lane said. She phoned an ambulance.

Dublin Fire Brigade responded to a call to the house at 11.08am. There were no signs of life and Mrs Peel was pronounced dead at the scene at 3.02pm.

A full investigation was carried out, but Gardaí found nothing suspicious.

A post-mortem revealed the woman had suffered a fatal injury inflicted by the garden shears in a fall from the ladder.

Pathologist Dr Linda Mulligan found a 16cm stab wound to the left side of the chest that entered the upper lobe of the left lung and damaged the left pulmonary artery. The blade of the shears punctured the upper lobe of the right lung causing blood loss and a collapsed lung that lead to the woman’s death.

Dr Mulligan found the injuries to be consistent with a single shears blade and noted the absence of any defence wounds.

The cause of death was a stab wound to the chest with contributory factors of heart disease and elevated levels of a medication that can cause drowsiness found in the blood.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane asked the pathologist if it was possible the woman fell from the ladder while holding the shears and the pathologist replied: "Yes".

Returning a verdict of accidental death, the coroner offered condolences to the family.

“This was a very difficult ordeal for you. It was such a shocking and unanticipated thing to happen,” the coroner said.

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