Man (75) fell into Royal Canal after leaving hospital

Coroner’s court hears William Walsh was ‘under a lot stress’ and ‘worried about tests’

William Walsh, from Clareville, Dublin 11 left the Mater Hospital (above) and was spotted in the water near Cross Guns Bridge in Phibsboro. Photograph:  Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

William Walsh, from Clareville, Dublin 11 left the Mater Hospital (above) and was spotted in the water near Cross Guns Bridge in Phibsboro. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

A 75-year-old man who was “under a lot of stress” over medical tests being carried out for abdominal pain fell into the Royal Canal and later died from his injuries, Dublin Coroner Court heard on Tuesday.

William Walsh, from Clareville, Dublin 11 was spotted in the water near Cross Guns Bridge in Phibsboro on the morning of May 7th 2014.

He had been admitted to the Mater Hospital on May 3rd where he was being treated for abdominal pain, the court heard.

His brother, Fr Aidan Walsh, attached to Fairview Parish in Dublin 3 said his brother was worried and stressed.

“He was worried about the tests. He wasn’t confused but he was under a lot of stress,” Fr Walsh said.

His brother had left the Mater and arrived to visit him at the parochial house on May 5th, the court heard. “He gave me his bank book, it puzzled me when he did that,” Fr Walsh said.

He brought his brother back to the Mater Hospital the following morning and returned that evening with ‘some messages he had requested’ to find his brother had left the hospital again.

Staff nurse Aoife Cleere Carroll said the patient had arrived back at the Mater with his brother on the morning of May 6th. She checked on him at lunchtime and found him ‘uneasy in his chair.’

“I asked him if he was alright, he was tapping his fingers on the side of the chair, he didn’t answer,” she said. Mr Walsh absconded again that afternoon and was reported missing to Gardaí at 7pm.

Mountjoy Prison officer Fergal Swain was cycling to work on May 7th when he went to the aid of a man drowning in the canal. Mr Walsh was suffering cardiac arrest when he was taken from the water and returned to intensive care at the Mater Hospital.

He died a week later on May 14th due to a lack of oxygen to the brain secondary to near drowning, according to a post mortem report. Returning an open verdict, Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said brain injury occurs once the brain is deprived of oxygen for four between four and five minutes.