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Death of woman while on holiday in Ireland accidental, court hears. Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

American tourist dies from prescription codeine after luggage injury

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Death of woman while on holiday in Ireland accidental, court hears. Photo by: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dublin Coroner’s Court has deemed the death of an American tourist from an overdose of prescribed codeine while on holiday in Ireland last year as accidental.

Jonatha Skeete, a 68 year old mother of two from Laurelton in Queens, New York, died on July 27, 2013, two days after she arrived in Ireland on a family vacation, the Irish Independent reports. Skeete was prescribed codeine after sustaining injuries from pulling her luggage. 

A deposition from husband Glen Skeete was read at the inquest describing how on the day of his wife’s death, they had traveled down to Powerscourt in Wicklow and Jonatha slept for the entire journey.

“We got there and everyone else went in to take pictures. I stayed with Jonatha until they returned and I, then, went to take pictures. I was then summoned by my nephew-in-law that Jonatha had collapsed. I got there to see paramedics and a doctor working on her,” he said.

Jonatha was taken by ambulance to St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown. The family followed behind, but when they arrived at the hospital were told that Jonatha had died.

A report from Dr Rafid Khashan at the Dame Street Medical Centre said that she had visited the clinic on July 25, the day she arrived in Ireland.

“Jonatha was complaining of pain in her right shoulder and her right hip/buttocks area. Both these injuries were caused while pulling a heavy bag during her travels. Upon investigation, Jonatha was unable to abduct [move] her shoulder and was walking with a limp,” Dr Khashan stated in the report to the coroner.

He advised her to go to a physic and prescribed seven days’ worth of anti-inflammatory painkiller Diclac, five days’ worth of benzodiazepine Anxicalm and a week’s worth of Tylex, a painkiller with a combination of paracetamol and codeine, which was to be taken as one or two tablets three times daily.

According to Mr Skeete’s deposition, the pills “worked fine” for the first two days.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell requested that police contact Mr Skeete to ask if his wife had taken excessive amounts of the medication. Garda Alan Conlon said that Skeete had said his wife was in “quite a lot of pain” and had been “self-medicating.” She had also been taking baby aspirin for a heart issue. Mr Skeete said his wife had taken “quite a few” pills for her injury but he had been unconcerned because she had worked as a nurse’s aide in the past.

Toxic levels of codeine were found in Jonatha Skeete’s blood at post-mortem. The pathologist determined that she died “as a result of pulmonary aspiration of food into the airways as a result of codeine intoxication” the Irish Independent reports.

Farrell said he found no evidence that she intended to hurt herself and so returned a verdict of death by misadventure.

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