Inquest hears woman died from fall when letting out family dog

Woman’s injuries were inoperable, and she was pronounced dead at Connolly Hospital

A 54-year-old woman died following a fall down stairs after she got up to let the family dog out.

The family pet was sitting beside Bernadette McDermott at her home in Celbridge, Co Kildare, when she was found critically injured, an inquest heard. The mother of two was rushed to Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, where she died due to head injuries sustained in the fall.

Her son Eoin McDermott and his fiancee had visited on June 25th, 2016, the day before the fall, and the three had discussed plans for the wedding, the inquest heard. “We stayed about 45 minutes. She was in good spirits, chatting to us about the wedding.”

He returned to the family home the following day. “I could see her lying at the bottom of the stairs. It appeared she’d come down to let the dog out, which she did every morning around 7.30am. She was barefoot. The dog was in the hallway sitting by her,” Mr McDermott said.


He called an ambulance. The woman's husband Tony McDermott was away in Malaysia when the accident happened. He returned immediately.

“I was told she’d been injured in a fall at the house. She never regained consciousness,” he said.


Medical reports noted that the woman arrived at the emergency department at 5.30pm and was deeply unconscious on arrival. A scan revealed intracranial bleeding and haemorrhage.

The woman’s injuries were deemed inoperable, and she was pronounced dead on June 28th, 2016, at Connolly Hospital. The cause of death was raised intracranial pressure due to a large extra-dural and sub-arachnoid haemorrhage due to a fall.

Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane commended the family for the "generous gesture" of organ donation, and returned a verdict of accidental death. "A fall down one or two steps is potentially dangerous. You don't have to fall down a flight of steps to sustain serious injuries," the coroner said.