Garage owner (75) crushed beneath car while changing tyre

Inquest hears Frank Smith, of the Sandford Garage in Ranelagh, died a week after accident

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane  returned a verdict of death due to an industrial accident in Frank Smith’s case before the Dublin Coroner’s Court on Thursday.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane returned a verdict of death due to an industrial accident in Frank Smith’s case before the Dublin Coroner’s Court on Thursday.

 

The owner of a long established garage in Ranelagh, Dublin died after he was crushed beneath a car while changing a wheel, an inquest heard.

Frank Smith (75), of the Sandford Garage, died at St Vincent’s Hospital in Dublin on November 16th last after spending a week in the hospital following the incident in which he sustained catastrophic crush injuries.

Mr Smith was changing oil and a tyre for a customer at the time of the accident on November 9th last. He was using a two-tonne hydraulic car jack while carrying out the work 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 it.

Mr Smith, of Sweetmount Avenue, Dundrum, Dublin, had changed the car’s engine oil and was about to remove the wheel when the incident happened.

John Harrington, a health and safety inspector, said the wheel had become stuck to the axle due to corrosion over time and Mr Smith opted to use a hammer to free it. He said the deceased would not have noticed the jack losing height as it was happening so slowly.

Hammer

The inquest heard that the car continued to move slowly downwards and its weight was coming to rest on the wheel Mr Smith was trying to remove. As he used the hammer on the wheel, the car fell down on top of him causing traumatic crush injuries to his chest including rib fractures, collapsed lungs and internal bleeding.

Mr Smith was rushed to St Vincent’s Hospital and 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. He died a week later.

A postmortem conducted by pathologist Dr Niamh Nolan gave the cause of death as a lack of oxygen to the brain due to traumatic asphyxia as a result of crush injuries sustained in the incident.

The Health and Safety Authority and An Garda Síochána conducted investigations into the incident and 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 as she returned a verdict of death due to an industrial accident.