A popular milkman died after his health deteriorated following a freak accident with his van while on his delivery rounds, an inquest heard
Colin Bryant suffered a fatal bleed on the brain after he never recovered from accidentally catching his head in the door of his van when he was slamming it closed.
He was delivering milk to a service station on May 9, 2018, when the accident occurred at 2am, an inquest at Exeter’s County Hall heard yesterday.
He told his wife Dru he had been putting an empty crate into the rear of his van when he hurt his head, reports DevonLive.
However, the 61-year-old carried on with his deliveries, despite falling twice that morning and being in pain.
Despite the insistence of Dru to see a doctor, Colin, who was described as having been fit and healthy up until then, refused to be checked over.
When his headaches increased and he had a further fall, Dru told in a statement how he finally agreed to be taken to A&E at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) on May 16.
Dru, who ran the office side of their milk delivery business in Barnstaple, Devon, recalled: “Around 2am I heard him wake up and asked how he was.
“He said he felt terrible and could not got to work. In the 25 years we were married he never said that.”
A CT scan revealed a significant bleed to the right side of his brain and he was transferred to Derriford hospital in Plymouth.
Colin was descried as having had a complex past medical history which included having replacement heart valve surgery in 1998 due to a genetic connective tissue disorder called Loeys-Dietz syndrome.
He also had high blood pressure and had been left with some nerve damage following a mini stroke.
When a further scan revealed a rebleed he received surgery and returned to NDDH where a further CT scan showed a bleed to the left side of his brain.
Colin was discharged home on June 21, but was described as not being his ‘usual self’ so was readmitted with fatigue and poor food intake on June 29.
A further scan showed no new bleeding, and he was discharged the following day.
While Dru was away and Colin was being looked after by carers and family, he was found on the floor at their home on July 7.
An ambulance was called and arrived two-and-a-half hours later, but he was not taken to hospital after telling the crew he had not hit his head, had not been knocked out and wanted to stay at home.
That evening he was found to be unresponsive when checked on by a family member and was taken to NDDH. A CT scan showed fresh bleeding around the left side of his brain from which he never recovered.
Home office forensic pathologist Dr Deborah Cook told the inquest: “Unfortunately that final bleed around the brain was much bigger and by the time he came into NDDH, sadly Colin was never going to recover from the compressive damage and was admitted for end of life care and passed away in the early hours of July 8.”
She said the cause of it was ‘most likely’ the fall the day before stating even it could have been caused by his head being ‘violently jolted’.
During his post mortem examination it was detected he had a rare infection in his right subdural bleed and Dr Cook said it was ‘more likely’ it would have occurred at the time of his surgery and she was ‘not surprised’ it had not been detected until after his death and added it would have been difficult to treat.
She said: “I do think it had impact in this case, but it is not the major factor here.”
She added an underlying factor was his genetic condition.
The cause of death was acute left sided subdural hematoma in man treated with warfarin following aortic valve replacement in Loeys-Dietz syndrome.
Conditions which contributed but did not directly lead to his death were right sided subdural hematoma following an operation on May 28.
Colin’s wife Dru said his deteriorating health led them to decide on June 4 to sell the business, but she had not expected him to get even worse.
She said: “I do not think we were given enough information about brain haemorrhages and the increased risk of having another one.”
During the inquest evidence was heard from paramedics who treated Colin when he was found on the floor at his home.
They reported he had no physical head injury and advice was given if his condition should deteriorate or change.
An investigation into the treatment he received from South Western Ambulance Trust following his death concluded NICE guidelines which have to been applied for specific conditions did not apply in this case as Colin reported not having hit his head.
However, the trust stated it did now offer staff additional guidance about frailty and falls since the incident.
Recording a narrative conclusion coroner Philip Spinney said: “The deceased suffered complications following a head injury on the background of anticoagulant treatment.”
Paying tribute to Colin after the inquest Dru said: “To us Colin was our devoted husband and father. He liked nothing more than pottering about at home and enjoying a home cooked meal with his family.
“Many people remember Colin from when he worked as a butcher in the Barnstaple, but for 30 years he delivered milk in Barnstaple, Landkey, Swimbridge and latterly Braunton.
“He thoroughly enjoyed his job and always went the extra mile helping people by changing lightbulbs and taking out rubbish. He was always smiling and would giving people a wave as he went about his deliveries.
“Colin faced adversity with both a genetic heart condition and a neurological condition, but he always carried on saying, ‘as long as I enjoy delivering to my customers I’ll keep going’.
“He would admit that he wasn’t Ernie the fastest milkman in the west, more the slowest! In his younger days he ran a youth club, he also served as a Landkey Parish Councillor and a trustee to Landkey United Charities.
“He enriched the lives of so many and we as a family and North Devon are poorer for his loss.”
In 1988 Colin was working as a butcher in Barnstaple when he heard that the local milkman was selling up.
Colin, never minding early mornings, decided he fancied being his own boss and bought the business.
In 1992 Colin was introduced to Dru by a customer. He asked her out and on their second date knew she was ‘the one’. Dru took a bit longer and waited until their third date.
Six weeks later he proposed and they married the following year. Their daughter, Lottie, was born in 1998.