Family’s relief at thorough investigation

Kristian Holgate, muscular dystrophy sufferer, with souvenirs from Liverpool FC trip.
Kristian Holgate, muscular dystrophy sufferer, with souvenirs from Liverpool FC trip.

The family of disabled teenager Kristian Holgate, who died weeks after falling from his wheelchair in a taxi, have spoken of their relief that there has finally been a thorough investigation into his death.

Kristian Holgate, 17, of Highfield Road, Rastrick, was injured in February 2009 while travelling as a passenger in the cab near his home. He fell out of his wheelchair, suffering cuts to his head and a fracture to his leg. An inquest heard he had not been fastened in securely with a seatbelt.

The student died less than a month later after becoming unconscious but Coroner Dominic Bell told the inquest a post-mortum found two previously undiagnosed conditions. The inquest returned a narrative verdict.

Kristian’s parents Kevin and Ann, who had maintained their son’s death was not due to natural causes, said they were relieved the inquest was over.

Ann said: “Everything is over and done with now. We just want some kind of closure to it.

“We know it is never going to bring Kristian back and we have to concentrate on our other two boys, Connor, 19 and Joshua, 16.”

Ann said she did not want other families to go through the same ordeal as the Holgates. “Even when it’s a little old lady saying she can’t put her seatbelt on, the driver has a duty of care to do that for them.”

She said the family was proud that Kristian’s name would live on at Huddersfield New College where an award has been named in his honour. “It is nice that his name is living on. He might be gone but he is definitely not forgotten.”

Mr Bell told the inquest that Kristian Holgate suffered from advanced Duchenne muscular dystrophy and required a wheelchair for mobility.

After the fall, he was treated in hospital for cuts and a leg fracture. But later his parents noted ‘a marked change’ in his behaviour.

“Kristian became anxious and upset and appeared to be having panic attacks. He was seen at home by a GP on February 24. His condition did not improve and he was seen again by a GP on February 26 who identified significant hypotension triggering referral to the paediatric department at Halifax Hospital. Kristian was admitted and observed overnight prior to discharge home the following day, February 27.

“On the evening of March 1, 2009, Kristian became breathless and agitated. He suddenly became unconscious. He was taken to Calderdale Royal Hospital, where efforts were made to resuscitate him. Those efforts were sadly unsuccessful and Kristian was pronounced dead at 11.30pm on that date.

“Post mortem examination found two previously undiagnosed conditions. First, a significantly enlarged heart with right ventricular hypertrophy. On the balance of probabilities this condition had been developing for some time and was a consequence of Kristian’s underlying muscular dystrophy.

“Secondly, a wedge-shaped haemorrhagic infarct of the lower lobe of the right lung. On the balance of probabilities this condition had been caused some days before death by a pulmonary embolus that had arisen as a consequence of the injury to Kristian’s left knee on February 9 and the subsequent immobilisation within a plaster cast. The pulmonary infarct reduced the ability of Kristian’s body to cope with the deteriorating condition of his heart.”