Man died after accidentally spilling a pot of boiling water on himself, study finds

An elderly Wexford man suffered fatal burns after spilling a pot of boiling water over his chest, an inquest has learned.

Dublin District Coroner’s Court hearing John Roche (86) died on 29 December 2019 at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, two weeks after the incident in the kitchen of his home.

Post-mortem revealed that Mr Roche, a father of four from Knocknasillogue, Blackwater, Co Wexford, died of bronchial pneumonia contracted as a result of severe burns to his body.

A plastic surgeon, Kevin Cahill, who treated Mr Roche in the burn unit at St James’s Hospital, said he suffered burns to at least 20 per cent of his body.

Dr. Cahill said some of the injuries that initially appeared minor were actually full-blown burns.

Although Mr Roche had had a number of skin grafts and appeared to be recovering well, the inquest revealed that he subsequently deteriorated after contracting pneumonia.

Mr. Roche’s widow, Eileen, told the coroner, Cróna Gallagher, that they had been in the kitchen of their home on December 14, 2019.

Ms Roche said her husband, who suffered from dementia and an irregular heartbeat, required constant care and attention and would not be involved in doing any work in their kitchen.

She described her husband sitting in an armchair in the kitchen with a pot of boiling water on the stove as she went out to feed her cats.

Mrs. Roche said she heard him moan afterwards and rushed in to find him on the floor in a pool of water with plenty of steam emanating from his body.

She said he remarked, “Look what I’ve done to myself.”

Mrs Roche said she tried to drag him out of the water but he was too heavy so she called one of her sons who lived nearby.

One of the couple’s sons, John Roche, said his father was in shock after the accident.

He was taken to Wexford General Hospital and later transferred to St James’s Hospital for specialist care.

Dr. Gallagher issued a ruling on accidental death, saying it could not have been predicted or prevented.

“While the dementia may have affected his judgment, it could have happened to anyone,” the coroner noted.