The ‘Break Enter and Die’ Syndrome May Involve Significant Injury to Major Neck Vessels


  • Roger W. Byard M.D.

    1. Discipline of Pathology, Level 3 Medical School North Building, The University of Adelaide, Frome Road, Adelaide 5005, Australia.
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Roger W. Byard, M.D.
Discipline of Pathology
Level 3 Medical School North Building
The University of Adelaide, Frome Road
Adelaide 5005


Abstract:  Death from incised wounds of major vessels may occur during illegal entry of premises. Wounds are often relatively unimpressive having been caused by thin shards of glass. Alcohol and/or drugs have often been taken that have impaired coordination and contributed to a failure to take appropriate action. A 37-year-old man slipped and fell while attempting to enter a house through a window that he had just broken. He was found dead surrounded by a large amount of blood. At autopsy, a single horizontal, deeply incised wound of the anterior neck was present with transection of the internal jugular veins bilaterally and the right common carotid artery. Toxicological studies were negative for alcohol and common drugs. Death was due to exsanguination and air embolism. This case demonstrates that the injuries sustained during such activities may be quite extensive and involve major neck vessels. Alcohol and drug intoxication are not necessarily involved.