A night of ''binge drinking'' before a mountain biking
trip led to the the death of Dunedin furniture remover Philip
Ross Bergman (27), according to Otago-Southland Coroner David
In a decision released yesterday, Mr Crerar said Mr Bergman
died on October 26, 2012, at the Snow Farm in the Cardrona
Valley near Queenstown.
Mr Bergman was with a group of 10 people who had consumed a
significant number of drinks ''including beer, sake bombs,
Jager bombs and whisky and cola'' until 3am on the day of
their mountain bike trip.
In the morning, Mr Bergman told his friends he was unwell and
As the group walked up a hill to view part of the bike track,
Mr Bergman fell to the ground.
He lost consciousness and although CPR was administered and
an ambulance and rescue helicopter attended, he could not be
Specialist pathologist Dr Martha Nicholson found ''a trace of
alcohol'' in Mr Bergman's blood.
She commented on an association between ''fatty changes
within the liver due to excessive alcohol consumption and
sudden arrhythmic death''.
''These deaths typically occur with a negative or low blood
''The mechanism of death is not fully understood but thought
to be due to a variety of metabolic disturbances triggered by
massive ethanol intake and starvation, resulting in cardiac
She noted Mr Bergman's body mass was in the obese range and
he had an enlarged heart (cardiomegaly).
Mr Bergman's mother, Jenny Bergman, sought an independent
opinion from British consultant pathologist Dr Motex Al-Izzi
who said at the time of Mr Bergman's death the level of
alcohol in his blood was ''not raised''.
''The circumstantial evidence points more towards a cardiac
event, rather than an alcohol-related event.''
However, Mr Crerar found that were it not for the consumption
of a significant amount of alcohol, ''the death of Philip
Bergman would not have occurred when it did, or how it did''.
He found Mr Bergman's death was due to cardiac arrhythmia,
being a syndrome of alcohol-related sudden death complicating
hepatosteatosis [fatty liver] and cardiomegaly.