Last hours of Gerry Ryan recounted
Melanie Verwoerd, girlfriend of Irish radio star Gerry Ryan, who died of a sudden heart attack setting off a prolonged national mourning, has described for the first time what the last hours in his life were like.
She said she realized something was badly wrong when he did not return her calls on the day he died. The couple did not live together. Both had broken up with their long-term spouses and were contemplating moving in.
She was speaking on the Marion Finucane show on Irish radio.
"It started the previous evening. Gerry hadn't been well for about two weeks. He wasn't feeling very well, he was very stressed. He didn't sleep well, he hadn't slept properly for a few nights. He kept waking up, but wouldn't go to the doctor. The night before, he was out with a few friends. I didn't go because I was feeling tired. He phoned me just before 12 (midnight) and we had a lovely conversation. He said he was tired and sounded very stressed, and I asked could I come over because I had moved very close to Gerry just three weeks before. He said no, he was already in bed and wanted both of us to get a good night -- especially me, because I was very tired.
"The next morning I didn't get my usual call from him. He would always call me just after seven when he woke, if we weren't together, and usually later when he was in the car (going to RTE). I didn't get either of those calls.
"I was a bit worried, I thought he had overslept because he was so tired the previous night. So I eventually went down to his house and saw the car, so I realised he wasn't up. So I was getting concerned, and I couldn't get into the house
"At that stage, it was before the programme. I couldn't get into the house, but not because I didn't have a key. I know a big fuss is being made about that, but of course I had a key. We lived between houses, my house as much as his house. But Gerry was very security conscious and people knew where he lived. So he always bolted the door from inside at night and put security chains on. So I couldn't get in. I tried to call him from outside and eventually I called the programme, Alice, his producer, and (asked her) was Gerry there, did he take a cab or something?
"She said he called in the previous night, he was very tired and just wanted to sleep in, and I was relieved that he was sleeping in because he was so tired and that he might just have put his phone on silent or left it downstairs
"So I went off to work. I was supposed to go to Athlone with him for some work he had to do for RTE. So I went to work and kept texting and phoning him, increasingly frenetically when it go to 11am/11.30 am.
"I got very anxious, and I suddenly had a bad feeling about everything. Even if he slept in, he would have woken up and some point and phoned me.
"I grabbed a cab and went back to his house and asked my son to come down with a hammer or screwdriver or something. He came down and tried to get the security chain off and open the door, but we couldn't get it off. So then I went down to one of the builders on a site nearby and asked one of them if they could help me.
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