The mother of a teenager who was fatally crushed by her horse at an event in 2016 has told an inquest a "very, very nervous" on-site medic was "struggling" and "kept fiddling with his equipment" while her daughter had a faint pulse, and it took about 20 minutes for a doctor to arrive at the scene.
Olivia Inglis, 17, died on March 6, 2016 after her horse Coriolanus (also known as Toga) hit a jump at the Scone Horse Trials in the Hunter Valley and fell on top of her, causing serious chest injuries. She did not regain consciousness and died at the scene.
A two-week inquest at the NSW Coroner's Court is examining the deaths of Olivia and another young rider, 19-year-old Caitlyn Fischer, who died about seven weeks later at a separate riding competition in Sydney.
On Thursday, Olivia's mother Charlotte Inglis told the inquest she was watching from near the start of the course because she had concerns about a series of jumps and wanted to make sure her daughter cleared them. She had told Olivia that if there was an issue, she shouldn't worry about finishing the course.
When Olivia got to jump 8B, two parallel rails which were lower at the front and higher at the back with a space in the middle, Mrs Inglis' view was obscured and she did not see Olivia fall.
She heard on the radio that there had been a fall and immediately knew it was her daughter, and headed to the scene with an official. Mrs Inglis became emotional at points in her evidence when she recounted what happened next.
She said when they arrived at jump 8, she saw her daughter's injuries and asked if she was dead. She was told by the on-site medic, who arrived about one to three minutes after the fall and was working to save her, that she had a faint pulse.
"That actually gave me the confidence to pull myself together," Mrs Inglis said. "I sat beside them and held her hand."
Mrs Inglis said as she sat there, the nervous medic was "fiddling" and "struggling" with his equipment. She thought at the time he was associated with NSW Ambulance, but later learned he was not and that Equestrian Australia had stopped using the "highly-trained paramedics" at its events years earlier.
Mrs Inglis said she and her husband Arthur Inglis, who also rushed to the scene, "were entirely unaware we had a paramedic who didn't know how to use his equipment and was unlicensed in basic St John's Ambulance".
"We didn't know a private company was on site that had a very different level of standards for the people they employ," Mrs Inglis said. "He [the medic] was faced with a very dire situation that would have been very stressful for him".
The inquest was previously told a doctor, who arrived about 20 minutes after the accident and gave chest compressions, had been a spectator at the event. A registered nurse also offered assistance but by the time a Westpac helicopter arrived nothing could be done.
Mrs Inglis said she previously expressed a concern about five jumps on the course which "weren't friendly", including 8A and 8B. This was because the rails were skinnier than normal, did not have a line on the ground which can indicate to the horse when it is time to jump, and could have been confused by the horse for show jumping obstacles.
The inquest heard in show jumping, rails collapse if they are hit, but in cross-country events, they are typically fixed.
A day earlier, Olivia's horse knocked over six rails when they competed in their show jumping event.
"They very much looked like show jumps on a cross-country course," Mrs Inglis said. "As soon as we saw the fences we had the concerns, particularly because of Toga's showjumping record."
The inquest continues.
Article courtesy of Nine and The Sydney Morning Herald