An elderly Dublin woman died of hypothermia after falling in late autumn two years ago and spending an unknown amount of time in the driveway of her home, an inquest has found.
Elen McDonald (91) was spotted on the ground in their shared driveway in Castle Close, Clondalkin by a neighbor who got up early to go to work on the morning of October 2nd 2020.
Although Ms McDonald was taken to Tallaght University Hospital by ambulance, she was pronounced dead a few hours later, with hypothermia given as the cause of death.
The neighbor who spotted Ms McDonald said he was going to work around 6.30am when something on the floor caught his eye.
Teddy McAuliffe said his elderly neighbor, who was wearing dresses and a jacket, was still breathing and he could hear her moaning.
Mr McAuliffe said his wife brought a blanket for Ms McDonald to keep her comfortable while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.
He said he tried to reassure her that “everything would be fine.”
Mr McAuliffe said he had no information on how long Ms McDonald might have been lying on the ground outside her home.
Coroner Aisling Gannon said in a session of the Dublin Borough Court that a post-mortem could not explain what caused Ms McDonald’s fall.
Ms Gannon said the deceased had not suffered a heart attack or stroke.
“There is no clear explanation as to why she fell,” the coroner noted.
Ms Gannon said Ms McDonald’s face had some bruising which raised concerns whether it was caused by a third party.
However, Garda Aideen Cronin, who was responsible for investigating Ms McDonald’s death, said Gardaí were satisfied there was no foul play or anything suspicious in the matter.
A nurse attending to Ms McDonald at the Accident and Emergency Department at Tallaght University Hospital, Niamh Tedders, said the patient had no recollection of events including falling outside her home.
Ms Tedders said Ms McDonald was also unable to speak full sentences.
Medical records showed that the patient’s lips were blue when she arrived at the hospital while her temperature was 26.3C.
The examination revealed that she suffered cardiac arrest while being treated in hospital.
A post-mortem showed Ms McDonald had no chest, stomach or head problems, while toxicology reports confirmed she had not consumed alcohol.
The autopsy concluded that she died of complications from hypothermia.
The coroner gave an open verdict, saying Ms McDonald suffered an unnoticed fall and it is unclear how she ended up in her driveway and how long she lay on the ground before she was found.
Ms Gannon said the evidence was not conclusive to allow the court to find that Ms McDonald died as a result of an accident or natural causes.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/courts/elderly-woman-91-died-from-hypothermia-after-fall-in-driveway-of-her-home-41824910.html An elderly woman, 91, died of hypothermia after falling in the driveway of her home