Pensioner died from escalator fall at Cork city shopping centre, inquest hears

Pensioner died from escalator fall at Cork city shopping centre, inquest hears
Merchant's Quay shopping centre in Cork city.

Olivia Kelleher

A pensioner died from a fall after he placed his walking aid on to the moving step of an escalator at Merchant's Quay shopping centre in Cork city, an inquest has heard.

John Murphy (78) from Silversprings Avenue in Cork was at the centre with his wife Mary at about 3pm on May 31 last when the accident occurred. Mr Murphy was pronounced dead at the scene by a GP who came upon the accident.

Cork Coroner's Court was told that Mr and Mrs Murphy were upstairs in the centre and decided to go downstairs. Mary went ahead of John as they took the escalator to the ground floor.

Mrs Murphy said she was on her way down the escalator when John fell from behind her.

She told Coroner Philip Comyn that she starting screaming to have the escalator stopped.

"By the time it stopped, I was at the bottom and so was John. "

She said that her late husband was always very careful when he used an escalator.

I know that when he stepped on an escalator he would always catch the rail. He was always using them and was not afraid of them.

Mrs Murphy said shoppers rushed to their assistance. However, tragically she was informed her husband had died in the incident.

She said there was nothing unusual as regards the escalator prior to the fall. John was also his "usual self".

She said that her husband had early-stage Parkinson's disease. He could walk without his crutch but he had it for extra safety.

Dr Aisling Bambury was shopping in the centre when the accident happened. She and nurse Carol Murphy who was also in the centre commenced CPR.

Mr Murphy did not respond when a defibrillator was used in an effort to revive him.

Paramedics also attempted to save his life. In a statement, Dr Bambury said that the pensioner was pronounced dead at the scene.

Both the nurse and doctor were assisted at the scene by pharmacist Eoin Fitzpatrick.

Garda Darren McNulty viewed CCTV footage of the incident. He said the footage showed that Mr Murphy placed his crutch on to one of the moving steps and lost his balance and fell.

The centre manager William Emmanuel said the escalator was serviced six times a year and also examined twice a year by the shopping centre's insurers. Nothing untoward was found to have occurred with the escalator.

He (the centre manager) said signage at the escalator advises people with buggies and Zimmer frames not to use it.

Dr Margaret Bolster, Assistant State Pathologist said that Mr Murphy died from cervical spinal cord trauma associated with blunt force chest trauma due to a fall down an escalator. He incurred lacerations to the scalp in the fall.

Coroner Philip Comyn said that the post-mortem results indicated that Mr Murphy's early stage Parkinson's disease had no bearing in relation to the accident.

He said that the family should garner comfort from the fact that Mr Murphy would have lapsed into unconsciousness thereby not experiencing any suffering in the incident.

He extended his sympathy to Mrs Murphy following the tragic loss of her husband and said no words of his could lessen her grief.

A jury recorded a verdict of accidental death in the case. No riders were added by the jury in relation to the death of the former ESB worker.

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