Carterton woman died after failed cat rescue

A review into Ms Dunn's treatment said there were "slight delays" but didn't affect the ultimate outcome (File)
A review into Ms Dunn's treatment said there were "slight delays" but didn't affect the ultimate outcome (File)

If a Carterton woman who died after trying to save her cat up a tree was found earlier, things may have been different, a Coroner has said.

Gaylene Dunn, 54, died in hospital on December 21, 2014 from the injury to her foot after she got it stuck between branches of a cabbage tree trying to rescue her cat.

Desperately trying to get the attention of neighbours by banging on a corrugated iron fence, Ms Dunn wasn't be noticed for around an hour-and-a-half.

Her neighbour Rose Martin told police she heard a banging noise around 5pm on December 19, but dismissed it telling the person to "cut it out".

She heard someone calling out, but their words were inaudible. Ms Martin eventually decided to find out the source of the sound and when she got closer, heard Ms Dunn calling her name.

Another neighbour called the fire service and ambulance.

Ms Martin eventually found Ms Dunn up the tree in a fenced backyard.

"Gaylene was standing in the cabbage tree. In fact, one of her feet was wedged between two branches where the trunk of the tree split in two in a 'y shape', the coroner's report says.

Neigbours tried to free her, but it wasn't until the emergency services arrived that she was able to be brought down.

She couldn't put weight on her right leg and her foot had become swollen and bruised.  Paramedics were initially going to leave her at home with an ice pack, but her elevated heart rate made them change their minds.

Ms Dunn was taken to Masterton Hospital; a request to have her urgently transferred to Wellington Hospital was delayed.

After her death, Ms Dunn's sister raised concerns about the treatment she received at Masterton Hospital which sparked a review into the case. It found her treatment and diagnosis wasn't a "significant departure" from the norm and was highly unlikely to have changed the outcome.

The cause of her death was rhabdomyolosis in her soft tissue - normally a result of crush injuries or strenuous exercise.

The coroner says had she been rescued around the time the banging started, there would likely have been a "different outcome".

"But no one is responsible for that not happening. Rose's response was quite normal."


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