A preliminary autopsy Monday revealed that a Little Rock cyclist died Saturday after a crash on a mountain bike trail because of problems with placing a breathing tube in her airway, the Washington County coroner said.
Laura Wooldridge, 39, of Little Rock, died after suffering facial lacerations and head and neck trauma on a cross-country mountain bike trail at Lake Leatherwood near Eureka Springs. Wooldridge, who friends described as an experienced mountain biker, was "pre-riding" the trail in preparation for competition Sunday as part of the Fat Tire Festival, an annual two-day mountain biking festival that began in 1999.
Washington County Coroner Roger Morris said Wooldridge was transported to Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville. She was pronounced dead a few minutes after arriving there at 11:24 a.m.
An autopsy was performed at the state medical examiner's office Monday in Little Rock. Morris said the preliminary autopsy gave the official cause of death as esophageal intubation, which may have made breathing difficult or impossible, with complicating neck and face trauma.
Intubation is the placing of a tube down an airway to assist breathing. Esophagael intubation happens when the tube is incorrectly placed in the esophagus, which leads to the stomach rather than the lungs.
Morris said that Wooldridge had cartilage damage and fractures in her neck and upper chest that prevented emergency personnel from properly inserting a breathing tube into her trachea.
"It's putting in the breathing tube, the breathing apparatus, to help them breathe. But due to the injuries, they were having a hard time placing it," he said.
Tom Dransfield, assistant fire chief and paramedic with the Eureka Springs Fire Department, said that Wooldridge was speaking when his team stabilized her at the festival. He said that Air Evac, a medical evacuation service based in O'Fallon, Mo., responded to a request to evacuate Wooldridge for further treatment.
Information for this article was contributed by Scott Carroll of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Metro on 07/22/2014
Print Headline: Autopsy cites intubation as cause of cyclist’s death