Pensioner had to wait two hours after injuring spine

A pensioner who suffered severe spinal injuries when he fell while crossing rocks on a Kerry beach was left waiting two hours for an ambulance, an inquest has heard.

Pensioner had to wait two hours after injuring spine

John Williams, aged 70, from Upper Kilmacud Rd, Dundrum, Dublin 14, died on October 1, 2013, just over two months after he fell at Clogher beach on the Dingle peninsula.

His wife of 45 years, Marion Williams, told Dublin Coroner’s Court they had been holidaying in Ballyferriter, Co Kerry, when they drove to Clogher at 11am on July 24 and Mr Williams went for a walk while Mrs Williams waited at the car.

At around 12pm she became concerned and went looking for him. She headed toward the steps down to the beach, which had no handrail, and saw him lying face down on a bank of rocks which had to be navigated before reaching sand. She initially thought he was dead.

“John was not moving at all,” she said. “I could see his right foot was bent at an unnatural angle. I went back up the steps to the car park where I screamed for help.”

An ambulance was called and a short time later, an ambulance appeared on the road but this turned out to be privately operated. The ambulance for Mr Williams had to travel 30km from Tralee, the inquest heard.

Mrs Williams told the court they were waiting “at least” two hours for the ambulance to arrive. While they waited, a nurse holidaying in the area attended to Mr Williams and local GP Dr Conor Brosnan administered intravenous fluids.

When paramedics arrived, Mr Williams was placed on a spinal board and transferred to Tralee General Hospital.

He was diagnosed with a traumatic cervical spinal injury on transfer to the Mater Hospital. His injuries were irreparable and he continued to deteriorate until his death.

The cause of death was given as multi-organ failure following a spinal cord injury.

Mrs Williams told coroner Dr Brian Farrell that, three weeks after her husband’s fall, Kerry County Council removed the steps, concreted the area, and erected fencing and warning signs.

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