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tragedy Ambulance crash led to tragic delay in treating father-of-six suffering heart attack, court hears


Mater Hospital, Dublin

Mater Hospital, Dublin

Mater Hospital, Dublin

A 74-year-old man died of a heart attack while being transported to hospital after the ambulance he was in crashed into a toll plaza barrier on the M3 motorway.

The High Court heard that this led to an “inexcusable” delay in getting father-of-six James Walsh to hospital.

The case, brought by Mr Walsh’s widow Josephine, who was with him in the ambulance when it crashed, was settled yesterday.

The court heard he became breathless and panicky after the toll plaza crash which exacerbated his extremely serious condition, where he was being brought to hospital suffering from chest pains.

Senior counsel Dr John O’Mahony with Harold Brooks BL told the court the ambulance went on the incorrect lane at the M3 Blackbull Toll Plaza and crashed into the toll barrier.

The ambulance had to reverse out of the lane and another ambulance had to be called.

There was, counsel said, an “unnecessary and inordinate delay” because Mr Walsh’s ambulance crew had to wait for a second ambulance to arrive.

Mr Walsh’s wife was in the ambulance with her husband when he was in a dire and critical condition.

“The big mistake was that the first ambulance did not continue to hospital after the crash. If it had, Mr Walsh would have arrived at the Mater Hospital, Dublin, in a timely manner and life-saving measures would have been carried out,” counsel said.

Josephine Walsh (73) from Culmullen, Drumree, Co Meath, sued the HSE and the National Ambulance Service over the death of her husband.

Liability was admitted in the case. The terms of the settlement are confidential.

It was admitted that the collision with the Toll Plaza outside Dunboyne, Co Meath, on September 29, 2017, and consequential delay prevented Mr Walsh’s timely arrival at the Mater Hospital where, on the balance of probabilities, he would have received life-saving treatment.

In court, a letter was read out from the National Ambulance Service which offered its sincere apologies to Mrs Walsh and her family for the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death.

Mr Justice Paul Coffey extended his sympathy to Mrs Walsh and her family.

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