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Farmers warned of dangers of animals following inquest

Farmers warned of dangers of enclosed animals at Castlebar inquest

Anton McNulty

Farmers have been encouraged to err on the side of caution when dealing with bulls and cows in an enclosed area after an inquest heard that a farmer died after hitting his head when releasing cattle from a crush.
The inquest into the death of David Walsh on Gowelboy, Kiltimagh last January heard that the number of deaths in Mayo involving cattle was high and coroner for south Mayo, John O’Dwyer asked farmers to be vigilant when dealing with the ‘unpredictable behaviour’ of farm animals.
“This is the third inquest I have dealt with in this situation and while there may be no previous history of animals causing difficulty, when they are in a pin, there will be always pressure on an animal to escape. There is always a risk when you have three cows and a bull in a pin,” he said.
Mr Walsh (67) died while in Intensive Care in Mayo General Hospital on January 9, 2012, two days after the accident occurred. While Mr Walsh went to the doctor after hitting his head, he declined to go to the hospital until he became unconscious while lying on his bed at home later that day.
Dr Fadel Bennani, Consultant Pathologist explained that a CT scan showed massive hemorrhaging to the brain and explained that his life may have been saved if he was taken to hospital sooner.
The inquest heard that Mr Walsh and his son, David T were treating their cattle for lice and were putting them into a crush. David T explained that three cows and a bull were put into a crush and he poured the treatment on them.
None of the cattle was considered wild and David T explained his father was in the process of opening the pin when the accident occurred.
“The animal leaving the crush did not involve any violent movement or speed but the sheer weight of the animal pushed the gate against my father and caused him to stumble backwards. He stumbled for approximately 15 feet before hitting his head,” he said.
He explained that Mr Walsh talked to him and his mother immediately after being helped off the ground and insisted on finishing the job, but was persuaded to go back inside. His wife, May phoned for Westdoc and he was brought to the surgery in Knock.
David T said when his father left the surgery he refused to go to hospital saying, ‘we will be waiting there half the evening’  but was advised by the doctor to go to hospital if he felt sick within four hours.
When he arrived home, he again declined to go to hospital and went to bed at 1pm. Later Mrs Walsh expressed concern for her husband and David T said that when he entered the bedroom he could hear ‘extremely loud snoring’ and he could get no response. At 2pm he called for an ambulance and his father was taken to the ICU of Mayo General Hospital where he died two days later.
Mr O’Dwyer described the incident as a tragic accident but felt if he was taken to hospital sooner the consequences may have been different. He expressed sympathy to his widow May, son, David and daughter Bernie on their loss.

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