Northern Ireland news

Former jockey collapses in hospital lift and dies minutes after being discharged

Hugh Hagan pictured on Red Dollar, one of many horses he rode during his career as a jockey in Ireland and England
Marie Louise McConville

A family have told of their "devastation and anger" after a much-loved west Belfast man collapsed in a hospital lift and died just minutes after being discharged.

Hugh Hagan (58), a former jockey who lived in Lenadoon, was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital last Thursday after taking ill while at the dentist.

The father-of-one and grandfather was discharged on Sunday but while travelling down in the lift to be collected by a family member he collapsed again.

Despite efforts by medical staff to save him, he died.

The cause of Mr Hagan's death is not yet known.

His niece Sinead Robinson, who described him as the "backbone of the family", last night said they "won't rest until we are given an explanation".

Hugh Hagan was from Lenadoon in west Belfast

As a young man Mr Hagan undertook an apprenticeship at a stables in Dundalk and acquired his jockey license, going on to compete in races at Laytown, the Curragh and Downpatrick.

At the age of 20, he moved to Newmarket in England where he worked at another stable while also competing. Among his many victories was on a horse called Red Dollar at Epsom.

Following several falls, Mr Hagan retired and returned home to Northern Ireland aged 30.

Ms Robinson said he loved horses and returned every year to Newmarket to visit the stables.

"He was a great uncle to all the nieces and nephews," she said.

"He was just really loved. We are so close. He was particularly close to his sisters Briege and Sadie.

"He was a cheeky chappie - he would have been a joker. He was just always smiling and he was funny."

She said the family have been left "angry" about the circumstances of his death.

"It happened within seconds of him being discharged," she said.

"We won't rest until we are given an explanation. We are heartbroken."

A spokesman for Belfast trust said: "We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the Hagan family at this deeply sad time.

"We know Mr Hagan’s family will want to understand what happened to him and we are working with the coroner to establish this. We would be very keen to meet with them whenever they feel able and we will be in contact to arrange this."

Requiem Mass for Mr Hagan will take place at 10am today at St Oliver Plunkett Church.

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