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Sunday 8 December 2019

'They told us he would only be in overnight' - tragic jockey's mother

Mary Tyner, the mother of jockey Jack Tyner, wept outside
court as she told of 'eight years of torture trying to get answers'
Mary Tyner, the mother of jockey Jack Tyner, wept outside court as she told of 'eight years of torture trying to get answers'

The HSE has apologised to the family of a talented Irish jockey who died following a fall in a point-to-point race after acknowledging his care in hospital fell below expected standards.

The High Court and Mr Justice Michael Hanna was told the written apology had been given to the jockey's family as part of the settlement of an action taken against the HSE and Cork University Hospital (CUH) over the death of jockey Jack Tyner (19).

Mr Tyner died on February 7, 2011, having suffered a serious head injury in a fall at a point-to-point meeting in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, six days earlier.

The young man was the only son of Robert and Mary Tyner from Innishannon, Co Cork, and is survived by his parents and five sisters.

His parents had initiated the High Court action after maintaining their son should have survived his head injury.

Sean Lynch SC, for the family, instructed by solicitor Carmel Best, told Mr Justice Hanna the HSE had admitted liability in elements of Mr Tyner's care, had issued a written apology to the family but had denied causation or that the failings in care contributed to his actual death. The Tyner family disputed this.

"This was a terrible tragedy," Mr Lynch said.

"The HSE have admitted fault. But they did not admit causation. They admitted they were at fault in elements of the care provided and they have apologised to the family in writing."

Mr Justice Hanna confirmed an undisclosed settlement.

Speaking outside the court, Mr Tyner's mother said his family is convinced he should still be with them today.

She said the family had only taken the action so lessons could be learned and other families could be spared their loss.

A trauma expert consulted by the plaintiffs said that, assessing the injury the young man suffered, he should only have been at a 9pc risk of death.

"Jack loved life and lived for the sport of horse racing. His ambition was to be a top jockey," said Mary Tyner.

"He had great ambitions and to get on with his life and be at the top of his game.

"On February 1, 2011, Jack had a fall at a point-to-point meeting sustaining head injuries. Following the fall, he was taken to CUH and we were led to believe he would be there for a few hours at most.

"Jack never came home and died on February 7, 2011.

"We subsequently learned that Jack received substandard care - had Jack received early intervention and the appropriate care at CUH he would be with us today.

"We got suspicious over certain things that happened. But if they just stood up at the start and told us, 'we made a mistake - things went wrong', we would not have had almost eight years of torture trying to get answers.

"It took us so long to get answers. They kept backing out and saying it was not their fault.

Traumatic

"But it was frightening to learn what went wrong.

"We accept the HSE has apologised for their part and their failings. In our view, however, lessons cannot be learned unless the professionals accept their part at an early stage as opposed to years of unnecessary litigation. This has been a very traumatic journey for us but from the outset we felt we had no option but to ensure Jack's story was told.

"Jack, our only son, grandson and brother was 19 years old, a fledgling young jockey whose dreams were taken away from him and us."

Ms Tyner said Jack's sisters remain heartbroken they never got a proper chance to say goodbye to him in hospital.

"They told us he would only be kept overnight," she said.

"He is very much missed. They never got a chance to say goodbye to him because we always thought he was coming home. But that never happened."

Jack's father, Robert Tyner, is a well-known horse trainer.

Jack Tyner suffered a heavy fall in the second section of the six-year-old and upwards mares' maiden race at Dungarvan when his mount, Dusmagic, crashed out at the first fence.

The teen had just won the previous race and had already ridden six winners in his budding career.

He had worked with Limerick-based trainer Enda Bolger and was regarded at the time of his death as one of the most talented young jockeys on the point-to-point circuit.

In 2011, Turf Club chief executive Denis Egan paid tribute to the young man.

"Jack's death is a tragedy for his family and everyone associated with racing. It is only when something like this happens that it brings home the risks all riders take on a daily basis," he said.

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