By Louise Roseingrave
The owner of a long-established garage in Ranelagh, Dublin 6 died after he was crushed beneath a car while changing a wheel.
Frank Smith (75) of the Sandford Garage in Ranelagh died at St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin on November 16 2017. He spent a week in hospital following an incident at the garage in which he sustained catastrophic crush injuries.
The incident happened at the garage on November 9 2017 when Mr Smith was changing oil and a tyre on a vehicle for a customer. Mr Smith was using a two-tonne hydraulic car jack in order to perform the operation under the car, Dublin Coroner’s Court heard.
However, the jack was gradually losing height over a period of time due to a small oil leak within the mechanism.
Mr Smith had changed the car's engine oil and was about the remove the wheel when the incident happened.
Health and Safety Inspector John Harrington said the wheel had become stuck to the axle due to corrosion over the passage of time and Mr Smith opted to use a hammer to free the wheel. He said Mr Smith would not have noticed the jack losing height as it was happening so slowly.
The car continued to move slowly downwards and its weight was coming to rest on the wheel as Mr Smith used a hammer to remove the wheel from the axle. The car came down on Mr Smith causing traumatic crush injuries to his chest including rib fractures, collapsed lungs and bleeding into the chest.
Mr Smith was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin where he was unconscious on arrival. He was treated for his injuries but a brain scan revealed he had sustained hypoxic brain damage due to a lack of oxygen.
Mr Smith of Sweetmount Avenue, Dundrum, Dublin 14 died in hospital on November 16, 2017.
An autopsy conducted by pathologist Dr Niamh Nolan gave the cause of death as lack of oxygen to the brain, due to traumatic asphyxia due to crush injuries sustained in the incident at the garage.
The Health and Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána conducted investigations into the incident. No prosecutions were directed.
"That is a big trauma for someone of his years. The crush injuries caused problems for his circulation which in turn caused a lack of oxygen to the brain,” Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane said.
The coroner returned a verdict of death due to an industrial accident.
The Sandford garage has since closed and the premises is for sale.