Man's four-year bedside vigil for wife

PUBLISHED: 07:52 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:58 22 October 2010

A devoted husband wept as he recounted how his wife died after four years in a coma - during which he barely missed a day by her bedside.

A devoted husband wept as he recounted how his wife died after four years in a coma - during which he barely missed a day by her bedside.

A coroner's inquest in Norwich yesterday heard how Linda Slade, 56, died on February 28, four years after she suffered severe head injuries in a car accident.

The mother-of-two had been in a permanent vegetative state since the incident in December 2002 but her loving husband Michael Slade, who was also injured in the accident, never gave up on her and kept an almost constant vigil at her bedside.

He visited her every day, at one stage travelling from his then home in Sea Palling, near Yarmouth, to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

As the coroner William Armstrong recorded a verdict of accidental death he paid tribute to Mr Slade's dedication.

"I think it is only right that this inquest should record the devotion that Mr Slade showed," he said.

"He spent a great deal of time by her side and this is testament to the fact this was a couple very much in love."

Mrs Slade died at All Hallows Hospital, Ditching-ham, near Bungay, where she had been moved to be closer to Mr Slade's home in Mettingham.

The accident happened just five days before Christmas when Mr Slade was driving along the A47 near Blofied towards Norwich with Mrs Slade in the passenger seat.

He told the inquest he suddenly lost control of the car and swerved across the dual carriageway toward the kerb.

Witnesses said the vehicle hit a safety barrier before somersaulting several times. A police investigation could not establish the cause of the accident.

Mr Slade said: "The last thing I remember was losing control of the steering wheel then I woke up in hospital and somebody told me there had been an accident."

Mr Armstrong said: "I am conscious that the trauma the family has suffered has been compounded by the fact she was in a permanent vegetative state for a great deal of time.

"It is not clear what caused the car to come off the road but there is no doubt it was an accident.

"I hope now that Mr Slade and his sons can find some form of closure in the grieving process."

Mr Slade broke down in tears as he spoke of his wife. "I spent everyday by her side and I loved her so much," he said.

Before the accident Mrs Slade already had a history of medical problems for which she needed care and had not worked for many years.

The couple have two adult sons, Ricky and Barry.

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