A wedding planner died just 12 hours after sampling food at a venue when his throat was burned so badly he stopped breathing. Darren Hickey’s voice box swelled up after eating the food until he could no longer breath or swallow because of the pain and swelling. He had been given the fishcake by a chef just as he was leaving to go to a charity meeting at lunchtime on April 4. Darren, 51, realised something was wrong as the pain intensified and went to the Urgent Care Ward at Chorley Hospital but was sent home with paracetamol. He went back to his home in Bolton to rest but the swelling became worse and his partner Neil Parkinson heard him choking at 9pm.
Neil said: ‘He shouted so I ran upstairs. He was stood up choking and coughing so I banged his back but then he slid forward onto the floor.’ Darren was taken to hospital but the damage was so far down his throat it could not be seen without specialist equipment and he died just after midnight.
Acting senior coroner Alan Walsh said: ‘He was enormously positive and enormously caring and gave to charity – he was a very generous, caring and compassionate man. ‘He was a remarkably strong and resilient man to overcome that stroke.’ A pathologist said the case was very rare and is normally associated with people killed in house fires who inhale smoke, burning the airways. Dr Patrick Waugh said: ‘The patient can appear well, they will be talking to you, but then the swelling starts.’
Bolton Coroners’ Court heard a full review into the incident would be carried out. Mr Hickey’s cause of death was given as asphyxiation. Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Walsh said: ‘I believe there are enormous lessons to be learned.
This was caused by eating a fishcake, very small and very hot but with catastrophic consequences. I find this an immense tragedy.’ Speaking after the inquest, Neil Parkinson, 55, said: ‘Darren was a larger than life character, always helping other people and was the centre of attention. ‘He would take over a room if he walked in. He did loads for charity and was well liked in the community.’ Darren suffered a stroke seven years ago and ended up in hospital for 18 months. He spent much of his time after that doing charity work and was given the Inspirational Person of Courage Award by the Stroke Association