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Man found collapsed had heart defect

Man found collapsed in stream had heart defect

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A 74-YEAR-OLD widower who collapsed after using an electric hedge trimmer while standing in a stream in Praa Sands could have died “at any minute” due to severe heart disease, an inquest has heard.

Ronald Spain, a heart surgery patient who lived with his son Andrew at Praa Sands Holiday Village, was seen “falling backwards” by neighbour and long-term friend Bill Watts on August 31 last year after trimming an overgrown budleia bush on his property.

The cable was found to have been severed in two places.

Questions over whether Mr Spain, who was wearing rubber Wellington boots, was electrocuted and whether he could have cut the cable intentionally were heard at the inquest in Truro on Thursday.
Pathologist Rolf Hohle also told the court Mr Spain was found to have a “severely enlarged heart” – more than double the size it should have been.

Coroner Emma Carlyon said she could not rule out that Mr Spain had been electrocuted by a cut cable in the electrical appliance which was connected to an electrical supply with no circuit breaker, but deemed there was not enough evidence to be sure of the circumstances surrounding his death before recording an open verdict.

Mr Hohle said there were no electrocution marks on Mr Spain’s body, but a small shock from the appliance could have led to him suffering cardiac arrest – a heart attack – because of his “severe heart disease”.
Dr Carlyon said: “My conclusion is that he had all conditions to have a heart attack. He had a severely enlarged heart and this could have happened at any time.

“Cardiac arrest can happen when you come into contact with low voltage. You can’t exclude that.”
Mr Watts, who was the first to find Mr Spain and a friend of 25 years, tearfully read out his statement to the hearing.

“I would describe Ron as a man who was full of fun and kept himself busy with his garden,” he said. “I’m aware he had a triple bypass (surgery)…but it didn’t ever hold him back.”

Mr Spain lost his wife Rose to cancer in 2008 and since her death had been described by his son Andrew as “heartbroken” and by Mr Watts as “unhappy” and “depressed”.

Mr Watts told the court he had been walking his dog at about 1.30pm when he had seen Mr Spain going to trim a bush with several tools, two of which were electrical.


On his way back he looked over to Mr Spain, who was stood in the stream facing the opposite direction, and saw him fall. Mr Watts called an ambulance and tried to massage his heart with the help of instructions from the paramedic. Paramedics managed to resuscitate Mr Spain while being air lifted to hospital but he died on September 1.