Diabetic man left alone in park dies

Police and ambulance crew attend to the 61-year-old man who died yesterday morning, after being ignored lying in a Dunedin park overnight. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Police and ambulance crew attend to the 61-year-old man who died yesterday morning, after being ignored lying in a Dunedin park overnight. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
An unconscious 61-year-old diabetic man, believed to have been lying unwell on a Dunedin park bench since Sunday, died soon after St John ambulance staff arrived at the scene yesterday morning.

Sergeant Ed Baker, of Dunedin police, said Donald James Caley was found at the changing rooms next to Guthrie Pavilion at Bayfield Park yesterday morning.

When ambulance staff arrived there were ''signs of life'', but Mr Caley died soon afterwards, Sgt Baker said.

Delta drainage foreman Evan Woodrow said his workers had been running new power cables between substations at the park, which is near Andersons Bay inlet. A Delta worker arrived at the park yesterday morning and telephoned emergency services after he saw Mr Caley lying unconscious on a bench outside the changing rooms.

The man had a wallet, a bag and bicycle helmet and had appeared to be dead, Mr Woodrow said.

Ambulance staff told him the man was diabetic and were in disbelief that a member of the public had not called emergency services earlier, he said.

A man approached the Delta crew yesterday morning and told them he had seen the man lying there on Sunday, Mr Woodrow said.

''The joker told me that he [Mr Caley] didn't look well. Why didn't somebody do something yesterday? They could have walked over and if he couldn't talk, you would have rung an ambulance, wouldn't you?''

That man would not have been the only person to have seen the unwell man because the park was used regularly by many people, Mr Woodrow said.

''It's rude that people have walked past and left him there like that, especially last night with it being so cold. It shouldn't have happened. They should have called the police straight away. It's a free call. It is disgusting. Dunedin [people] are not looking after people who are sick. That's what it boils down to.''

Sgt Baker said if somebody was found unconscious, assistance should be sought immediately.

Mr Caley's death was not suspicious and he had a known condition, Sgt Baker said.

The earliest sighting of the man lying outside the changing rooms was on Sunday, between 9am and 10am, Sgt Baker said.

Police were interested to hear from anyone who had seen the man there before then.

Mr Caley had been missing for a couple of days, Sgt Baker said.

Senior Constable Rob Murray, of Dunedin, said Mr Caley worked as a labourer and was dropped near his home in South Dunedin on Friday evening, where he lived alone.

Dunedin City Council sport fields and facilities officer Harold Driver said the changing rooms at Bayfield Park were not booked at the weekend but the park was open to the public.

The park did not have a security patrol, he said.

Dunedin Track Club spokeswoman Netty Lastovicka said the Guthrie Pavilion had not been booked at the weekend.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

Interventions

Thank you, ej kerr and Hype. O. Thermia. It may be that people are more likely to check people lying prone outdoors. Even drunkards can die, of alcohol asphyxiation.

Diabetic man, a tragic death

Please could we have a follow-up on diabetes - not how the disease occurs or what happens in the system of the person who has it, but how it looks to outsiders when a person is unwell.  Do Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics show the same symptoms when they are heading into a crisis state?  Is it always correct to give the person a sugary drink or piece of candy?  I know sometimes a person may become incoherent and even a bit "ornery",  like a drunk.  Some people have diabetes that is readily controlled, others are unfortunate in that their insulin levels fluctuate a lot even when they are following the diet and medication rules, and these are the ones most likely to need help.  It's not their fault, any more than deafness or blindness.  Please help the rest of us to be aware, ready to help instead of jumping to the conclusion that a person is a drunk or druggie who will be OK when the effects wear off.

Diabetic emergencies

I'd like people to read the following online advice:

St John First aid guide for diabetic emergencies

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