Get checked by your GP prior to physical exertion, Mayo coroner urges

A coroner has today issued a warning that anybody about to engage in strenuous physical activity such as climbing Croagh Patrick should be checked beforehand for any underlying medical conditions.

Pat O’Connor, Coroner for Mayo, made his comments at an inquest into the death of a 74-year-old Co. Antrim man – a teetotaller and non-smoker – who collapsed and died at the start of the steep climb to the summit of the holy mountain last August.

The deceased, Michael Doherty, 68 Landgarve Manor, Crumlin, Co. Antrim, was ascending the mountain with his wife, Kay, on August 6 when he suddenly fell face down onto the ground.

Mr. Doherty, who was retired, died at the scene despite attempts by members of Mayo Mountain Rescue Team (MMRT) and other climbers to save him.

His body was removed by a Coastguard helicopter to Mayo University Hospital.

At an inquest today, Mrs. Kay Doherty gave evidence by way of a written statement that it was a sunny day and her husband was in good form during a climb which they had undertaken a number of times previously.

“I don’t remember a whole lot from the day,” Mrs. Doherty stated. “The weather was beautiful and we were both really enjoying the day. I don’t really remember anything after this. My memory is more or less blank.”

Dr. Tamas Nemeth, a consultant pathologist who carried out a post-mortem examination, gave the cause of death as cardiogenic shock due to (or as a consequence of) coronary sclerosis accompanied by physical exertion.

Dr. Nemeth described Mr. Doherty’s medical condition as ‘like a ticking time bomb’.

He agreed with the coroner that the physical exertion caused by the mountain climb had put severe pressure on the deceased’s heart.

Returning a verdict of death from natural causes, Coroner O’Connor made his recommendation that anybody undertaking physical exertion such as climbing Croagh Patrick should be checked by a doctor beforehand.

Sergeant Margaret O’Connor, on behalf of An Garda Síochána, joined the coroner in expressing sympathy with the deceased’s wife and family.