'Vicious' death rumours quashed

00:22, Mar 21 2014
Dearna McLaughlin
TRAGIC DEATH: Dearna McLaughlin collapsed at Shooters Bar last year.

The manager of Palmerston North's Shooters Bar is pleased "vicious" social media rumours about the death of a woman drinking in the bar on St Patrick's Day last year have finally been proved untrue.

Coroner Tim Scott has declared that a coronial inquiry is not needed into the death of Palmerston North student Dearna McLaughlin, 20, because she probably died of heart failure.

McLaughlin, also known as Andy Attle, was socialising with friends at Shooters in Main St about 1.30am when she attempted to climb a dancing pole at the bar and collapsed.

She was taken by ambulance to Palmerston North Hospital where she died about 2.35am.

The cause of McLaughlin's death was a mystery for several months, but in his decision the coroner concluded it was from natural causes, a probable sudden arrhythmia.

An autopsy had shown there were no suspicious circumstances to the death and that the death was natural.

McLaughlin had no underlying or pre-existing conditions that had contributed to the sudden arrhythmia, he said.

"She had been drinking and was affected by alcohol but was not grossly intoxicated," the coroner said.

"I do not consider it necessary or desirable to open and conduct an inquiry."

Shooters manager Ricky Quirk said the nightclub had known from the start that most of the rumours spreading around social media were untrue.

"We could see straightaway from the security cameras that she hadn't fallen off the pole and hit her head, but it was just vicious the way some of the rumours circled," Quirk said.

"It's one of the real negatives of social media."

While the death was a tragedy, it was good to have an official decision showing rumours of a fatal fall or spiking of drinks in the bar were false, he said.

The death had happened on a night when the bar was packed, and employees had been hit hard by the death.

Fairfax Media approaches yesterday to McLaughlin's family were unsuccessful.


Manawatu Standard