The wife of an eminent Belfast barrister died after choking on her food during a holiday in the Republic, an inquest heard yesterday.
Anneliese Lavery (68), from Broomhill Park, Belfast had been eating lobster at a Galway restaurant when the tragedy occurred last Easter.
On March 24, Mrs Lavery and her lawyer husband, Michael Lavery QC, had travelled from Ashford Castle where they were staying, to Moran’s on the Weir Oyster Cottage at Kilcolgan, Co Galway for lunch.
Mrs Lavery ordered lobster, but shortly after beginning to eat her food, she began to cough and choke.
She was given water to drink and restaurant manager, Eileen Finn Graham, a trained nurse, went to her assistance. She was also attended by two other diners, another nurse and a doctor.
Ms Finn Graham told the inquest that Mrs Lavery was a bigger lady than any of those attempting to assist her and despite repeated attempts at the Heimlich Manoeuvre, along with thumping her back, Mrs Lavery’s condition did not improve.
After some time a lobster tail was dislodged from Mrs Lavery’s throat but her colour had changed noticeably and she was unconscious.
Mrs Lavery’s son, Finbarr, said that she had also been put over a chair, with her chest facing down in an attempt to free the piece of food. When eventually dislodged, the piece of lobster measured about 10cm in length.
Mr Lavery said he wanted to thank everybody who had come to his mother’s assistance, including the restaurant staff and the medical personnel. Michael Lavery QC added his thanks to all who had attempted to revive his wife.
Pathologist, Dr Margaret Sheehan concluded that the cause of death was acute asphyxia due to obstruction of the airways by a food bolus.
The inquest was also told that Mrs Lavery was one of three people to die as a result of choking on their food in Galway — two of whom died on the same day.
West Galway Coroner, Dr Ciaran McLoughlin described the three tragedies as “unprecedented”.