Ice skating injury leads to death

01:35, Jan 14 2013

A coroner is encouraging ice skating rinks to offer helmets at no charge, following the death of a woman who hit her head when she fell while skating.

In a report released today, coroner Richard McElrea said Irene Peckitt, a farmer and mother from Timaru, went on a school trip to Alpine Springs skating rink at Lake Tekapo as a parent helper on September 1, 2010.

Peckitt slipped and fell heavily while skating, hitting the back of her head on the ice. She was not wearing a helmet.

Later in the afternoon, she complained to her husband of a throbbing headache and nausea.

The next day, Peckitt went to her local doctor and was admitted to Timaru Hospital for assessment, the report said.

Initial scans showed bruising to her brain, and a skull fracture. Hourly observations were taken through the night, which remained normal.

The next morning, Peckitt said she felt well - comfortable, alert and awake, but that afternoon her headache intensified.

Another scan was taken, showing no significant change to the injuries. The nausea and vomiting she had earlier had settled, the coroner said.

At midday the following day, the on-call surgeon doing his rounds found her unresponsive and an emergency team worked on her for 45 minutes, but she died at 12.35pm on September 4.

The coroner found Peckitt received appropriate medical treatment, but that her death could have been prevented if she had been wearing a helmet when she was skating.

"The case highlights the importance of wearing protective helmets in an ice skating situation, not only for beginner or inexperienced skaters, but for all skaters," McElrea said.

He said there were no figures on how many ice skaters were injured each year, so the true number of accidents across all ice skating rinks was not known.

"The Department of Labour report highlights the initiative taken before this fatality by Alpine Springs skating rink in promoting the use of protective helmets supplied free of charge at the skating rink," McElrea said.

McElrea commended the skating rink operatorand encouraged other rinks to do the same.