Rhos man was dead under snow in car park for four days

Published date: 19 February 2014 |
Published by: Charlie Croasdale
Read more articles by Charlie Croasdale


A MAN who had a heart attack in a supermarket car park was buried under snow for four days before his body was found.

Kevin Wyburn Williams died of hypothermia in the Morrisons store car park on Ruthin Road, Wrexham, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mr Williams, 49, of Meifod Place in Rhos, suffered a cardiac arrest when walking on March 25, 2013 – a period which saw some of the heaviest snow in three decades.

But his body was buried and remained lying under snow until March 29, when a North Wales Police search team using walking poles to feel down into the deep snow found his body.

Coroner for North Wales East and Central, John Gittins, concluded Mr Williams’ death had been accidental and hypothermia had been brought about following cardiac failure resulting in him collapsing in the snow.

He added it had been “a tragic accident of his own making”, after evidence from Mr Williams’ GP revealed a history of health problems linked to alcohol abuse, including an enlarged heart twice its usual size.

The inquest centred around evidence given by Emma Lambert, who had been walking home at 6.45pm on March 25 when she saw Mr Williams sat in snow at the side of the road.

She asked him if he was okay and Mr Williams replied: “I am okay, I’m just having a rest.”

Ms Lambert continued to walk home and looked behind her to see Mr Williams was up on his feet and walking towards Morrisons.

However, three days later she saw a missing persons appeal online and the missing male matched the description of the man she had spoken to at the side of the road.

She phoned police and on the morning of March 29 a search party went out around the south area of the hospital.

The party split into two and it was when one search team were prodding through deep snow with walking poles in the supermarket car park that they found Mr Williams’ body.

Temperatures on March 29 were said to be around freezing, and between March 25 - 27 the town was hit by its heaviest snowfall in three decades.

A GP’s report from the Gardden Road surgery, Rhos, said Mr Williams had a history of heart failure and admissions to hospital due to intoxication, which were put down to a poor diet and high alcohol consumption.

He had an heart enlargement and high blood pressure.

A post-mortem examination by Dr Pauline Dowling revealed Mr Williams’s heart weighed 857g, compared to normal 350-400g.

This was put down to Mr Williams’ alcohol consumption levels and lifestyle.

Mr Williams, a labourer, had twice visited Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s A&E department on the afternoon of his heart failure, firstly following a fall on snow near his home in Rhos and secondly following a fall, again when slipping on snow, shortly after leaving the hospital.

During the second visit Mr Williams was seen to by Dr Roger van Heerden, who treated him for the symptoms of back pain.

Having been discharged by Dr van Heerden, the patient was walking away from the hospital when Ms Lambert had seen him.

Mr Gittins said he had wished to seek, during the course of his inquiries, whether anything could have been done differently by hospital staff to prevent the death.

He also sought to find out whether Mr Williams’ alcoholism meant he was not given as much attention as other patients.

However, evidence of a report provided by Dr Sian Morgan, a consultant at the hospital, stated she was ‘satisfied the care provided to Mr Williams was appropriate and there had been no discrimination against him due to his alcoholism’.

Mr Gittins said he was satisfied there was no discrimination against the patient by hospital staff.

In his conclusion Mr Gittins said: “Mr Williams’ cardiac failure could have happened at any time and was a result of his lifestyle choices and alcohol consumption.

“The weather has played a part in his death, due to heavy snowfall.

“When visiting hospital twice that day, I am confident he got the same treatment anyone else would have received.

“His death was accidental and hypothermia was an unintended consequence of the weather being particularly atrocious.

“Sadly this was a tragic accident of his own making.”

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