Dad-of-two with ‘heart of gold’ dies after collapsing in McDonald’s as family pay tribute

A father-of-two has died after collapsing in McDonald’s from a suspected heart attack.

Jerry O’Leary, 44, was rushed to hospital after staff and paramedics battled to revive him.

But he tragically passed away three days later in Manchester Royal Infirmary.

READ MORE: “What are you doing? Stop!”: Son left mum scarred for life after accidentally slashing her across the face during ferocious knife attack

A heartbreaking photo shared by his family show his mum and brother keeping a bedside vigil during his final hours.

Jerry’s brother Les O’Donnell, from Stockport, told the Manchester Evening News: “He had a heart of gold.

“He would have done anything for anyone.

Jerry O’Leary, 44, from Stockport, died after a suspected heart attack

“When he was good, he was a great guy to be around.”

Les explained that Jerry had suffered with alcohol and drug misuse for most of his life – often leading towards a path of ‘self-destruction’.

“My brother had quite a lot of help and support,” Les, who is fundraising for Jerry’s funeral costs, said.

“When he didn’t have that support, he wasn’t Jerry. We tried to do our best to keep him on the straight and narrow.

“The way he was wasn’t really related to him as a person – he went into a stage of self-destruction.

“He went to a mental health hospital in Rochdale and was doing really well but when he had to leave, his financial control was never going to be a real option for him.

“He was weaned off into his own property but he just couldn’t cope with it and came back to the drugs and the alcohol.

“Him collapsing was unfortunately the turn-out of all of that combined.”

Jerry, Steven and Les with mum Josie

Les said staff at McDonald’s began performing CPR on Jerry until the ambulance services arrived at the Reddish branch.

“If it weren’t for them, he would have died there and then,” Les said.

“They did all they could possibly do to help.”

When the ambulance arrived, Les said that Jerry was resuscitated by paramedics.

“They said he died twice at the McDonald’s but they managed to get him back,” he explained.

“They took him to hospital where he was put on life support in the critical ward.

“Nobody knew who he was because he had been living homeless for the last few months, but the police were able to contact my mum and asked her to come identify him at the hospital.

“Unfortunately, the neurosurgeons explained that their tests eventually found that he had significant brain damage.

“Even if he came round, his brain was so badly damaged that he would have been in a vegetative state.

“He was put on a do-not-resuscitate order and we unfortunately got the dreaded call that no one ever wants to hear.”

A heartbreaking photo shared by his family shows Jerry’s mum and brother keeping a bedside vigil during his final hours

Les says his mother, 70, has been left inconsolable by Jerry’s death but is being supported by him and brother Steven, 39.

“She lost her best friend and boyfriend earlier this year and then she’s gone and lost her son as well,” he explained.

“It’s not right that my 70-year-old mother is now left to bury her son.

“We’ve got to pick up the pieces now and be there for her.”

Les, who works for a waste removal company, said he hoped Jerry’s death would raise more awareness around mental health and addiction.

“Most people still don’t understand mental health because there’s a lot of ignorance around it,” he adds.

“There are people out there being failed by society – I hope my brother’s death will make people aware of that.

“I want to raise awareness so that it can maybe help others in a similar position and encourage people to check in with each other more.”

Help and support

Samaritans operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. Call 116 123 for free or email

CALM has a helpline (0800 58 58 58) is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

SANEline. If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).

Drinkline, a free, confidential helpline for people who are concerned about their drinking, or someone else’s. Call 0300 123 1110 (weekdays 9am–8pm, weekends 11am–4pm)

Alcoholics Anonymous, whose helpline is open 24/7 on 0800 9177 650. If you would prefer, you can also email them at or live chat via their website at

Al-Anon offers support and understanding to the families and friends of dependent drinkers. You can call their confidential helpline on 0800 0086 811 (open 10am-10pm).

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently found adult depression is currently making up a larger percentage of GP diagnoses than before the pandemic.

A survey by the ONS also found that, in June 2021, 21 per cent of adults said they had experienced some form of depression.

According to Alcohol Change, there are an estimated 602,391 dependent drinkers in England.

In 2019/20, 74,618 people were in treatment at specialist alcohol misuse services – a fall of 19 pc since 2013/14.

“We just need someone to hear my brother’s story,” Les says.

“Even if it’s just one person, it might help them open up about their lives, their struggles and make them see things differently.

“No family is perfect but there comes a time where you’ve got to turn around and draw the line on things and work together.”

The family are fundraising to cover Jerry’s funeral costs. You can donate here.

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