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AN INQUEST HEARD how a nursing midwife from Bromley was killed when she was thrown from a tuk-tuk in Phuket on the first night of a dream holiday with her fiancé.

Niamh Corrigan (29) hit her head on a mountainside road after she was flung out of the vehicle following an evening with her Scottish boyfriend Peter Fortuna.

Southwark Coroner’s Court heard how Mr Fortuna tried to stop Ms Corrigan falling out of the tuk-tuk and then attempted to resuscitate her until an ambulance arrived. Medics though were unable to save her life.

The inquest was told that the couple were attending a friend’s Christmas wedding in Phuket and planned to explore the Thai island after the ceremony before returning to the UK in early January.

On landing, Ms Corrigan and Mr Fortuna went for a meal with the wedding party and then visited a number of bars with a smaller group before deciding to go back to their hotel at around 2.30am.

In a witness statement presented to the court, Mr Fortuna said:

We promised each other we would get a tuk-tuk because we thought it would be fun.

But, after a while we reached mountain roads with steep inclines and sharp turns and we were violently jolted from side to side in the back of the vehicle.

“Near the end of the journey she (Ms Corrigan) felt motion sickness and she wanted to sit next to me. When she moved to sit beside me she stood up.

“At that point the tuk-tuk ascended a steep hill and lunged suddenly as it manoeuvred a sharp turn.”

The court heard that the turn moved the rickshaw to one side and Ms Corrigan fell out of the back.

Coroner Dr Julian Morris said:

His (Mr Fortuna’s) instinct was to reach out and grab her but sadly his reaction time was too slow and Niamh landed in the road.

She must have landed on her head because there was no response. Blood from under her head was visible.

The tuk-tuk driver called an ambulance while Mr Fortuna, with the aid of a passing American medic, tried to resuscitate Ms Corrigan.

Mr Fortuna told the court: “I was screaming to bring her back from the state of unconsciousness. The frustration and anguish was unbearable waiting for the ambulance.”

The ambulance took 40 minutes to arrive but was poorly-equipped and could not deal with Ms Corrigan’s injuries. She was taken to a nearby medical centre and then a hospital in Phuket nearly two-and-a-half-hours after the accident.

Doctors could not find a pulse or other vital signs and she was declared dead on December 20.

A post-mortem examination carried out in Britain gave the cause of Ms Corrigan’s death as, ‘head injuries as a result of falling from the back of a moving vehicle’.

Summing up, the coroner concluded: “This was an accidental death after falling from the back of a moving taxi vehicle with an open read door”.

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PHC Magazine

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