Gardaí investigating how Covid patient left hospital with anti-vaccine campaigners

Joe McCarron was allegedly encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital but died a week later.
Gardaí investigating how Covid patient left hospital with anti-vaccine campaigners

Cate McCurry, PA

Gardaí are investigating an incident in which a Covid-19 patient left a hospital against medical advice in Co Donegal.

Joe McCarron appears to have been encouraged to leave Letterkenny University Hospital, but died a week later.

The 67-year-old from Dungloe left the hospital with a group of anti-vaccine campaigners but was readmitted two days later and put on a ventilator.

He died on Friday morning and was buried on Sunday.

A senior investigating officer is now overseeing the investigation to establish whether any criminal offence was committed by those involved.

A video widely shared on social media on September 14th appears to show Mr McCarron being encouraged by another person to leave the hospital.

The video shows one man telling a visibly ill Mr McCarron to “put your trousers on, we are going home. You are safe”.

He then tells Mr McCarron to follow him, and adds: “You stay behind me, nobody will touch you.”

Mr McCarron replies: “OK.”


A staff member then tells the individual that what he is doing is wrong.

“You have the right to decide what you want to do, but I don’t think what he’s saying is right. You are barely able to breathe. We want you to stay to help you,” the staff member said.

“I am very worried about you. I think he is saying something very dangerous. What he is saying is very wrong and very dangerous and I think he is endangering your life.

“It is a very difficult disease that you have and I am not lying to you, you could die.”

The man replies: “If you stay here, they will f***ing kill you, Joe” before accusing hospital staff of “lying”.

Despite the efforts of hospital staff, Mr McCarron left. He was readmitted to hospital days later and died on Friday.

His funeral mass took place in St Crona’s Church in Dungloe on Sunday.

His family said they wanted to keep their home private before the funeral because of fears around Covid.

In a statement, a garda spokesman said: “An Garda Síochána continues to investigate a number of recent incidents which occurred at Letterkenny University Hospital, adding: “A senior investigating officer is appointed to oversee the investigation.”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly described the incident as “very concerning”.

“I have seen some footage from it, it is very concerning. There is absolutely no place for that,” Mr Donnelly said.

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