ESB worker attacked by stag sues in High Court

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Tim Healy

An ESB worker who was attacked by a large stag and tossed through the air as he climbed a mountain has sued in the High Court.

John Corcoran (63) was an engineering officer with the ESB and was on his way to check a mast when the stag attacked him on a forestry path at Kilduff Mountain outside Templemore, Co Tipperary.

The attack took place in September 2016 during what is traditionally the rutting season.

“It was a really lovely summer’s day when a herd of deer crossed the path in front of me,” he told the court.

“I said wouldn’t it be a lovely picture and then I got a sense of fear.

“The hairs on my neck were standing. I looked behind me and there was a stag 15 paces back from me,” he told Mr Justice Paul Coffey.

He said he started to run but the stag hit him with force, his antlers creating eight puncture wounds on Mr Corcoran’s rucksack and wounding him in the shoulder.

“He propelled me through the air at speed over a bank and into the scrub. I lost my helmet and glasses,” he said.

The stag continued to attack with feet and antlers but Mr Corcoran said he had a rod and managed to hit the stag a few times in the nostrils, but it reared up on his hind legs and came crashing down on him.

Mr Corcoran said he lost consciousness for an estimated 10 to 12 minutes but later managed to reach his phone and summon help.

At the opening of his case against the ESB, Mr Corcoran’s counsel Edward Walsh SC instructed by Sean Fitzgerald solicitor of HOMS Assist told the court Mr Corcoran is left with lifelong deficits and his “middle and golden years are blighted”.

Counsel said the accident led to the destruction of Mr Corcoran’s career and his claim for loss of earnings amounted to a total of €420,000.

“He is a shell of himself. He has changed utterly,” counsel said.

Mr Corcoran’s wife will say there has been a “sea change” in her husband since the attack, that he has gone from an active man to somebody who struggles on a day to day basis, he said.

Mr Corcoran returned to work in February 2017 but retired on medical advice in November 2017 after 38 years with the ESB.

Mr Corcoran, of Fawnlough, Nenagh, Co Tipperary, has sued ESB Networks Designated Activity Company with a registered address at Clanwilliam House, Clanwilliam Place, Dublin, and the Electricity Supply Board with a registered address at East Wall, Dublin, over the stag attack on September 12, 2016.

Mr Justice Coffey was told that liability has been admitted in the case which was before the case court for the assessment of damages only.

It was claimed that Mr Corcoran had been permitted to work alone in a mountain area during the deer mating season when it ought to reasonably have been known that it was dangerous and unsafe to do so.

It was also claimed there was a failure to have in place any local procedures for lone workers working in isolated areas to ensure they could work safely.

It was further claimed there was a failure to have in place any warning device, panic alarm, ‘man down’ system or automatic distress message system for persons working alone in isolated areas.

The case continues on Wednesday.

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