Man on canoe course died after successful capsize drill on river
A MAN lost consciousness after he successfully capsized his canoe while taking part in canoeing course for beginners run by the Irish Canoe Union on the river Liffey, an inquest has heard.
Brian Dempsey (52), Blarney Park, Kimmage, Dublin, was not breathing and had no pulse when he was pulled from the water at the Irish Canoe Union training centre, Strawberry Beds, Dublin, by instructors at the centre on the afternoon of May 16th, 2009.
An inquest at Dublin County Coroner’s Court heard that Mr Dempsey, who had asthma, had successfully completed a standard capsize drill for the second time that day and was swimming when his instructor Oliver Coffey noticed he was short of breath.
“I paddled towards him . . . I told him to hold my boat and I would assist him to the bank. As he was holding on to the boat he tried to take his inhaler from his pocket which he didn’t succeed in doing . . . he held on to my boat as I paddled to the bank and then he let go . . . Brian was unconscious,” Mr Coffey told the inquest.
Mr Dempsey was using a nylon spraydeck, a device which attaches the canoe to the canoeist and prevents water entering the canoe, for the first time that that day.
The device, which was for beginners, was easy to get out of and “pops off” when the canoeist was upside down, the court heard. His head did not become submerged in the water at any stage after he surfaced after capsizing the canoe.
Mr Coffey alerted the other instructors to the emergency and brought Mr Dempsey to the river bank. The instructors carried out CPR until an ambulance arrived about 10 minutes later. He was brought to Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown where he was pronounced dead five days later.
Senior instructor Patrick Neeson said that when Mr Dempsey came up for air after capsizing the canoe, he was coughing and in distress and appeared to have swallowed some water. Up to the point where Mr Coffey had shouted emergency, “the capsize was like the others and going in a standard way”.
A postmortem found Mr Dempsey, who had significant heart disease, died of congestive cardiac failure and pneumonia, secondary to inhalation of river water with heart disease and asthma as contributory causes.
A jury returned a verdict of accidental death under the direction of coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty. It recommended that people should be requested to produce a medical cert from a doctor saying they were fit to undergo these courses.
Conor Ryan of the Irish Canoe Union said he would pass that on to the union committee.