A warehouse supervisor from High Wycombe suffered a horrific head injury after falling down a flight of stairs while celebrating her partner’s birthday - and died in hospital days later, an inquest heard this week.
Katarzyna Duda, 43, a Polish woman living in Micklefield Road, was at her boyfriend Pawel Sydor’s shared home in Chiltern Avenue as part of a birthday celebration with friends when disaster struck in the early hours of November 10 last year.
An inquest on Wednesday heard that Pawel had gone to bed early on November 9 because he was feeling unwell but Katarzyna had stayed downstairs with their friends, who had visited for a birthday drink, and Pawel’s housemates.
As the visiting friends prepared to leave to go to a disco in the early hours of November 9, they described hearing a “serious bang” and opened the door - to find Katarzyna lying unconscious in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs.
The friends turned her onto her side and called 999 at 12.34am with paramedics arriving at 12.58am. She was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
At an inquest into her death on Wednesday, February 19, senior coroner for Buckinghamshire said Katarzyna had fallen down a flight of 14 steps – a vertical height of 10ft.
In a statement read out by an interpreter at the hearing – which was attended by Katarzyna’s brother-in-law and parents – Pawel said the couple had been together for eight years and had recently been working through some problems.
He said the pair would often spend time together at his shared house in the evenings after they had both been to work.
In the statement, Pawel said there had been “something wrong” with Katarzyna in the hours before she died – and had apparently spilt soup over her friend and had then started to “tremble”.
He said: “A friend asked her if she was okay and she said yes – I was sleeping at the time.”
Describing the moments after Katarzyna was discovered after falling, Pawel said: “My friends woke me up. The light was off – she must have been walking without putting the light on. It is hard to write about such an accident. I want to see a psychiatrist because I just can’t believe the stress that has come upon us.”
CT scans carried out at the John Radcliffe found that Katarzyna had suffered extensive head injuries including a skull fracture.
Her condition worsened as the days went on and her organs started to fail despite doctors trying to treat her.
She sadly went into cardiac arrest while on the acute intensive care unit and an hour of attempts at CPR were unsuccessful. She was pronounced dead at 2.15am on November 20.
Mr Butler said: “This seems like a very tragic accident. Katarzyna fell backwards down 14 steps in the dark. Nobody saw it happen, they just heard it. She suffered a head injury as a result.
“She was at the bottom of the stairs and it is quite distressing because the report describes blood on the carpet. It is clear to me it was a serious injury.
“She died of organ failure caused by a traumatic brain injury, which was caused by a fall down the stairs. What contributed to that was Katarzyna’s cardiomyopathy because she was on blood thinning medication.”
He ruled her death was an accident.