Ribbleton mum died of head injury from accidental fall down stairs at home

A mum-of-two from Preston died after falling down the stairs at her home and suffering an "unsurvivable" head injury, an inquest heard today.

By James Holt
Friday, 17th September 2021, 4:22 pm

Gemma Louise Love, of Belmont Avenue, Ribbleton, was found unresponsive at the bottom of her stairs by her sister on May 23 this year.

She had called round after she become concerned when she had stopped answering phone calls from her family.

The inquest, on September 17, had earlier heard she had been taking medication to treat depression and anxiety in the weeks leading up to her death.

Gemma was found at her home on Belmont Avenue in May this year

The 36-year-old, who was also a mum to two children, was said to have accidentally tripped down her stairs when home alone and falling unconscious before being rushed to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment.

At an inquest held this afternoon at Preston Coroner's Court in Fulwood, Coroner Sian Jones concluded that Gemma had suffered an 'unsurvivable injury' after falling down her stairs and developing an inter-cranial haemorrhage from hitting her head in the accident.

Witness statements from Lancashire Constabulary and Senior Investigating Officer George Binns outlined that the force responded to an incident to find the young mum unresponsive and not breathing at the bottom of her stairs in May.

Paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service were able to get Gemma breathing again before transporting her to the hospital, where a consultant Neurosurgeon described finding an "isolated head injury, swelling and dilated pupils".

The inquest into her death was held at Preston Coroners Court today

The Neurosurgeon added: "She was given a trauma and brain CT scan which showed a serious brain injury. She was managed in the critical care unit and was sedated. Her left pupil was not reacting to light and her right pupil was sluggishly reactive. Whilst in care, she was also treated for traumatic diabetes insipidus and her inter-cranial pressure was spiking."

During her time in intensive care, where she remained at one of the lowest possible levels of consciousness, she developed a severe blood sodium condition which caused her to develop multi-organ failure in the day before she passed.

The inquest heard that after consulting the family, on May 29, the decision was made to take away treatment and begin offering end of life care as the injury was deemed unsurvivable.

The hospital Neurosurgeon added: "Unfortunately, Gemma had an unwitnessed accident which led to an injury to her head. It was thought she fell down the stairs and she was brought in to A&E for surgery, but she continued to remain in an unwell condition and developed multi-organ failure."

Doctors suggested the death was as a result of traumatic acute brain injury and multi-organ failure due to a blood sodium condition.

The inquest heard that Gemma had visited her GP at Kingsfold Surgery the month before the incident with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and was prescribed Propranolol and Citalopram to be taken daily for at least three months.

Dr Ravi Gokul added that from a follow up appointment, Gemma had said she was feeling "positive benefits" from the medication a month before her death.

A postmortem ruled that there was 'no suspicious involvement' in Gemma's death, and police had also examined the scene thoroughly, including her mobile phone, when she was found.

Enquiries made by officers led them to believe that the Ribbleton mum had been alone at the time of the incident, after a neighbour claims to have seen her by herself through the living room window.

Coroner Sian Jones said: "On the basis of the evidence, which all points in one direction to events on the day, I take that Gemma was a young woman clearly loved by her family. She had some issues in life, like most of us do, but nothing from evidence heard that is relevant to her death.

"I am satisfied from the medical and police statements, that the events arose from accidental circumstances and that the injury which she suffered was unsurvivable, despite hospital treatment she received.

"I am satisfied she died having been found at her home with a significant injury. I am happy to accept the cause of death was an inter-cranial haemorrhage.

"I will conclude the death was due to accident and I will record the fact that Gemma was found at bottom of stairs having suffered an injury consistent with a fall. I pass on my condolences to the family for the loss of Gemma who was very much loved and no age at all to die."