THE family of a 19-year-old jockey who died in hospital in 2011 after a fall during a horse race felt they were put through almost eight years of torture trying to get answers from the HSE.
Jack Tyner had a fall at a point-to-point meeting in February 2011, but it was only today that the family’s case against the HSE ended at the High Court in Cork.
Mary Tyner, the late jockey’s mother, said outside the courthouse 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.”
Seán Lynch, the family’s senior counsel, said in court: “The HSE admitted fault in the end. They did not admit causation but they do accept they were at fault and have apologised in writing. They have apologised for any failings on their part. We take a different view.”
Mr Lynch said that the case had caused enormous distress for the family.
Carmel Best, solicitor for the family, said the distinction between liability and causation effectively meant that the HSE accepted there had been failings, but not that these were the cause of Mr Tyner's death.
However, had the case gone to trial, the defence would have called evidence from a UK-based neurosurgeon alleging that the late Mr Tyner was at risk of death following a severe head injury from the fall during the horse race, but that this risk was, at most, 9%.
Ms Tyner said: “Jack loved life and lived for the sport of horseracing. On February 1, 2011, Jack had a fall at a point-to-point meeting sustaining head injuries.
“Following the fall, he was taken to Cork University Hospital [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 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 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.”
Mr Justice Michael Hanna was told that the HSE had given a written apology to the Tyner family as part of the settlement of an action taken against the HSE and Cork University Hospital over the death.
Mr Tyner died on February 7, 2011, having suffered a serious head injury in a fall at a point-to-point meeting in Dungarvan, six days earlier.
The young man was the only son of Robert and Mary Tyner from Innishannon, and is survived by his parents and five sisters.
Mr Justice Hanna approved the sum on offer today in settlement of the action.
Ms Tyner said the family had only taken the action so that lessons could be learned and other families could be spared their loss.
“He had great ambitions to get on with his life and be at the top of his game.
“It took us so long to get answers. They kept backing out and saying it was not their fault. But it was frightening to learn what went wrong.
“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.”
Ms Tyner said her son’s siblings remain heartbroken that they never got a proper chance to say goodbye to him in hospital.
She said his sisters never got a chance to say goodbye to him because they always thought he was coming home, but this never happened.
Mr Tyner’s father, Robert Tyner, is a well-known horse trainer.
On February 1, 2011, 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 teenager had just won the previous race and had already ridden six winners in his budding career.
He had worked with the 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.