A retired Napier surgeon died after falling down stairs in his home, a coroner has found.
James Elliott, 66, was found dead in his Bluff Hill house in May by his ex-wife Rosalind Elliot three days after she last saw him.
The father-of-three died of blunt impact trauma sustained after falling down stairs, Hastings Coroner Chris Devonport said in a written decision released today.
Family members were aware of previous falls, some of which had resulted in head injuries.
They considered it was likely these falls were due to a mix of alcohol consumption, lack of balance because of his weight and slowing down since retiring.
Devonport said alcohol and balance issues were likely to have contributed to his fatal fall earlier this year.
Elliot had spent his life operating on thousands of people.
The third generation medical doctor retired in mid-2010 after 30 years' operating in Napier and Hastings hospitals.
His grandfather was Sir James Elliott, a distinguished medical practitioner in Wellington.
Elliott's son Rob, who is training as an orthopaedic surgeon at Nelson Hospital, will continue the family tradition.
Elliott was well known in Hawke's Bay, with former patients often approaching him to thank him, his family told The Dominion Post last week.
"Medicine was his life, " Rob Elliott said.
"But sailing and family were his passions. He was devoted to both really. He was a man of great integrity."
He spent many years sailing and would race his Noelex 25 yacht, Jolie Brise. In the 1960s he sailed to Australia and competed in the Sydney to Hobart race.
"He had been so busy in his career. He was a man of routine and structure. I don't think he'd ever really got his head around retirement, " daughter Antonia Elliott said.
- © Fairfax NZ News