Death ruled an accident

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A JURY has ruled that the fall which led to a Wigan mum’s death was an accident.

Tragic Marie Kirkham died just weeks after tripping over collapsed safety barriers near her Pemberton home and breaking the top of her left leg.

The plastic barriers, which had been connected to surround an area of dug-up pavement, were blown over in high winds the night before.

A Balfour Beatty contractor, who carried out the gas piping replacement work, said he and his workmen had further stabilised barriers on nearby Ormskirk Road with sandbags.

But no sandbags were used on the corner of Lichfield Street and Brindley Street, where Mrs Kirkham lived, because it was a quiet area.

Despite this, subsequent police and Health and Safety Executive investigations found no significant breaches of health and safety legislation.

Mrs Kirkham’s husband, William, told Bolton Coroner’s Court how he was away working in Ireland when his “multi-talented” wife, a self-employed cleaner, called to say she had been injured in a fall.

By the time he got back home – the following day – his wife had already undergone surgery at Wigan Infirmary.

In a statement issued to Balfour Beatty, Mrs Kirkham said: “I lifted my left foot up to get onto the pavement. I’m not sure exactly what happened next but I caught my foot on the barrier and, the next thing I knew, I had fallen forward onto my left hand side and my left hip hit the kerb.”

Although neighbour Diane Lindley glanced out of her window as Mrs Kirkham fell – before racing to her aid – there were no witnesses to the exact circumstances of the incident.

Three weeks later Mrs Kirkham collapsed at her home after suffering a heart attack.

Despite repeated attempts to resuscitate her, both by paramedics and doctors at Wigan Infirmary, the 57-year-old mother-of-two was pronounced dead shortly before 4pm on August 6 last year.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Mills recorded the cause of death as a blood clot in the lungs caused by the fracture to the neck of her left femur, which had been operated on. A jury of four men and six women recorded a narrative verdict, stating that Mrs Kirkham died as a consequence of injuries sustained in an accidental fall.