A new report says a 51-year-old British wedding planner died earlier this year after he reportedly ate a fish cake so hot it burned his throat, causing swelling to his airways that ultimately impeded his breathing.
Darren Hickey — who was described by his partner, Neil Parkinson, as a “larger-than-life character” — reportedly sampled a fish cake at a wedding venue around noon back on April 4, South West News Service (SWNS), a British news agency, reports.
The pain from the burn led Hickey, a stroke survivor, to seek medical attention at the Urgent Care Ward at Chorley Hospital. Medical professionals reportedly sent him home with acetaminophen and told him to return if the pain worsened. Hickey then went home to rest.
That evening, Parkinson, 55, claims he heard Hickey “making noises” and rushed upstairs. He reportedly found Hickey, of Bolton, Lancashire, choking.
“He was stood up choking and coughing so I banged his back but then he slid forward onto the floor,” Parkinson said, according to SWNS. Hickey was taken by ambulance to Royal Bolton Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just after midnight that evening. His death came roughly 12 hours after he'd sampled the cake.
The recent inquest into the man’s death heard by Bolton Coroners' Court ruled that the burns to his throat caused extreme pain and swelling. The swelling to his airways eventually made it impossible for him to breathe and swallow.
Dr. Patrick Waugh, a pathologist who performed Hickey’s post-mortem, said the burns were far enough down in the man’s throat that they would not have been seen without specialized equipment.
Waugh compared the burns to those sustained by people who breathe in smoke during a house fire.
"The patient can appear well, they will be talking to you, but then the swelling starts,” Waugh said at the recently conducted inquest into the April death, per SWNS.
Hickey’s cause of death was ruled asphyxiation.
Acting Senior Coroner Alan Walsh called the wedding planner’s death an "immense tragedy.”
“I believe there are enormous lessons to be learned,” he said. “This was caused by eating a fish cake, very small and very hot but with catastrophic consequences."