Man with 22% burns did not call for help after stove accident

A RECLUSE who was badly burnt in a gas stove accident suffered in agony for at least 18 hours because he didn’t want to bother his home help, an inquest heard yesterday.

Cork Coroner’s Court was told Edward (Ned) O’Connor, 65, of Ballymackessy in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, suffered 22.5% burns to his body while trying to light a gas stove at his cottage at about 2pm on January 18.

He received severe burns to his chest, arms, back and legs but he didn’t call anyone for help. He removed his burnt clothes, put on new ones and spent the night alone, vomiting.

Mr O’Connor lived next door to his brother but, the inquest was told, they have not spoken for several years.

The full extent of his injuries was not discovered until his home help, Nora Crowley, called at about 8am the following morning.

She said when Ned eventually opened the door, she could see a three centimetre burn trail along the floor from the stove to the sitting room, and some dried blood on the floor.

She also discovered the clothes he had been wearing at the time of accident dumped in a basin. “They were burntto a cinder,” she said.

Ned said he had been sick during the night and felt very weak.

“His skin looked like a hardened tambourine,” she said.

Ms Crowley said Ned told her the accident had happened at 2pm the previous day.

“He would often ring me for small things, like cigarettes. I asked him why he didn’t ring about the fire. He said he didn’t want to bother me. He was very quiet, a real gentleman,” she said.

Ms Crowley dialled 999 and an ambulance arrived. The crew cut the clothes from Mr O’Connor’s body and further burn injuries were discovered on his arms, backs and legs.

He was taken first to Limerick Regional Hospital before being transferred to Cork University Hospital. He died the following day after suffering a heart attack. A postmortem revealed he had heart disease.

The cause of death was acute cardiac failure due to heart disease complicated by shock due to burns. Mr O’Connor had also suffered hypothermia in the hours after the accident.

Mr O’Connor’s family was notified about yesterday’s inquest but no one attended. Dr Cullinane recorded a verdict of accidental death.

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