Coroner to investigate death of 24-year-old Montreal half-marathon runner

Coroner to investigate death of 24-year-old Montreal half-marathon runner

MONTREAL — A coroner will investigate the death of a runner during Montreal’s marathon on Sunday amid questions about whether it took too long to get him help.

The provincial coroner’s office confirmed that Patrick Neely, 24, died after collapsing as he neared the end of the half-marathon race during the International Oasis Rock ‘n’ Roll Montreal Marathon.

The paramedic agency serving the Montreal area said Monday it responded rapidly to a call for a man in cardio-respiratory arrest a few kilometres from the half-marathon finish line.

Urgences Sante spokesperson Veronique Tremblay says the call came in at 9:55 a.m., and paramedics were treating Neely seven minutes later.

“We had the information at 9:55 a.m. that a person was in cardiac arrest, but we don’t know if anyone called before that,” she said.

Some witnesses have said there was a lengthy delay — as long as 25 minutes — in getting help.

Tremblay said they’re working with the promoter to figure out what happened, noting it’s the promoter who has the responsibility of providing medical assistance on site.

In a statement late Monday, organizers said a bystander initially tended to the runner, who collapsed about two kilometres from the end of the 21.1-km race.

“While the Good Samaritan was providing CPR, a call was placed to 911 emergency services, who then in conjunction with the event’s race command centre dispatched ambulatory response,” the marathon organizers said in a statement. Based on evidence from eyewitnesses and the runner’s pacing data, they estimated that emergency personnel arrived on the scene about eight minutes after the 911 call.

They said there was no connection between the death and a delay of the race’s start, adding that more than 80 health professionals and 50 defibrillators were present along the course.

“We would like to thank the fast response of the Good Samaritan for their efforts as well as event medical personnel who worked diligently to treat the race participant,” the statement said. “We share our sympathies with the athlete’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

Tremblay said eight ambulances with 16 paramedics were assigned to work the event and were positioned according to a plan put together by promoters and the ambulance service’s own emergency resource department.

“There is many months of preparation so they figure out where to put the ambulances strategically,” she said.

Montreal police said that although their officers were present, they wouldn’t comment on a what was a medical event.

The marathon had been plagued by logistical problems at the start, with race organizers apologizing for a delay of nearly an hour.

“The safety of the course was not assured at the scheduled time of departure,” organizers said in a Facebook post. “The organization redeployed teams on the courses to ensure safety throughout the course.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2019.

The Canadian Press

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