The death of a West Bay man days after Hurricane Ivan was due to natural causes, a Coroner’s Jury determined last week.
Mr. Calvin A. Powery, 42, died on 23 September 2004, less than two weeks after Ivan caused devastation throughout Grand Cayman.
According to Dr. Nadia Williams, who performed the autopsy, Mr. Powery died of congestive heart failure due to severe scoliosis with respiratory compromise.
Dr. John Heidingsfelder, recently appointed government pathologist, explained the autopsy report at the request of Queen’s Coroner Nova Hall.
He said scoliosis is curvature of the spine. In severe cases, as Mr. Powery’s was, the S-shape of the spine causes ribs on one side of the body to compress against each other, while ribs on the other side splay apart or become abnormally separated. This is because the backs of the ribs are attached to the spine.
The deformity of the chest can cause difficulty breathing, which in turn leads to a lack of oxygen in the blood. This ultimately leads to heart failure, the doctor said.
Both of Mr. Powery’s parents gave evidence.
Mr. Araunah Uriah Powery told the court that Calvin was physically and mentally handicapped and could not walk properly. Mr. Powery was not aware of any sickness apart from the curvature of the spine. Calvin was not on any medication at home. He attended Sunrise Training Centre.
Before Hurricane Ivan, Mr. Powery had boarded up the windows of the house with ply board. After the hurricane, he was cleaning up the yard. He did not take down the boards. There was not much ventilation in the house.
The jury foreman asked if they had a generator in the house. Mr. Powery said not at that time.
Mrs. Dell Powery confirmed Calvin’s problems, adding that he would get congested easily and had to have a fan on him all the time to help him breathe more easily.
Because of Ivan, the house was boarded up and Calvin would stay by the front door during the day. He was very restless and would go lie down, then get back up to sit in a chair.
Several weeks before Ivan, the doctor and nurse had visited and said Calvin was all right. They did not give him any medicine.
Both parents said Calvin shared a bedroom with two brothers.
Around 9pm he developed a fever and his mother put ice on him ad he seemed to feel better. At midnight he was worse. When Calvin did not respond to his parents’ speech, Mrs. Powery stayed fanning him and Mr. Powery went to the police station to call for an ambulance because the house had no phone.
The ambulance crew worked on Calvin and then took him to the hospital.
The coroner asked Dr. Heidingsfelder about the possible impact of the hurricane on this occurrence.
He said the hurricane and the boarding up of the house and lack of ventilation was possibly a contributing factor to the timing of Calvin’s death. But he could have died without the occurrence of the hurricane because of his condition.
The pathologist added that individuals he had examined who had died of scoliosis had been at a younger age than Mr. Powery.