Letterkenny Courthouse

Motorcyclist died from heart attack during off-road trail in Donegal

November 20, 2019

A 56-year-old motorcyclist died when he collapsed during an off-road scramble in fields around Donegal.

Victor McAlonan had been out with three friends and an instructor riding motorbikes on February 11th, 2017 at Downniesbar, near the village of Glen neat Lough Salt.

The men had been in good spirits and had already been riding their VJP Pro bikes for a period of time.

Under instruction of Paul McGuigan of Dirtbike Tours in Tyrone, the men decided to come down a descent.

Victor McAlonan was at the rear of the group.

Mr McGuigan told an inquest into the death of Mr McAlonan at Letterkenny Coroner’s Court that after about 40 metres, he looked back and could only see three bikers.

He said ” stopped to do a head-count and I said “we’re a man down.”

Mr McGuigan went back to locate Mr McAlonan and found him with the 100 kilogramme bike lying on the lower part of his body.

He was unresponsive and he could not find a pulse from the victim.

He said there was no sign of a collision or an impact and it appeared that Victor had only traveled half a metre from where he last left him at the start of the descent.

The emergency services were contacted and members of the emergency personnel rushed to the scene.

Because of the steepness of the terrain, the ambulance could not access the victim and a paramedic managed to get a lift on the back of one of the off-road bikes ridden by Mr McGuigan.

A decision was then made to summon an emergency helicopter and the casualty was put on a spinal board and winched on board the chopper and taken to Letterkenny University Hospital but was pronounced dead.

Mr McAlonan’s nephew Richard said his uncle was not carrying any weight and that he was not aware that he had a heart condition.

Pathologist Dr Hajnalka Gyorffy said there were no external injuries including bruising on the body of Mr McAlanon from Main Street, Cullybackey, Co Antrim.

However, she added there had been significent findings of heart disease.

Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said it was his finding that Mr McAlonan died from natural causes as a result of coronary deficiency.

He added “If he had been walking down Portrush it could have happened. We don’t think that the accident contributed to his death. The signs are that his heart stopped as a result of heart disease.”

He paid tribute to the emergency services including Mulroy Coastguard for attempting to save Victor.