Man who choked on curry: death was ‘accidental’

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The inquest into the death of a Hastings man who died after choking on food last summer was concluded as being ‘accidental’ at Hastings Coroners Court on Tuesday (March 3).

Paul Geoffrey Cohran, 61, who lived in Cornwallis Gardens, had been enjoying a meal with two friends, Peter Payne and Chris Reader, at an address in Salisbury Road, Hastings, on June 19, 2014, when the choking occurred.

In a written witness statement that was read to the court, Mr Payne described how, shortly after sitting down to eat the chicken curry meal at around 4pm, Mr Cohran started shaking. Mr Payne believed his friend was having an epileptic seizure and commenced mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR while Chris Reader, rang for an ambulance.

Giving evidence, paramedic Crawford Paton, one of a two man crew attending the scene, said they arrived to find Mr Cohran slumped in a chair. CPR continued and during resuscitation a large chunk of meat was dislodged from Mr Cohran’s throat and he was rushed to the Conquest Hospital.

Dr Kathleen Murray, an ICU consultant at the Conquest, said Mr Cohran arrived at the hospital at 4.30pm ‘intubated and ventilated’ but there was no evidence of neurological activity. She confirmed that a piece of food had been dislodged from the larynx and there was ‘a lot of food in his lungs’.

Dr Murray said Mr Cohran had suffered a ‘significant cardiac arrest’, but whether that was before or after the choking could not be determined. Mr Cohran was given a CT scan and other attempts to revive him but he made no neurological recovery.

Dr Murray said Mr Cohran was given ‘every possibility’ for recovery but the best he could have hoped for was a persistent vegetative state but his family said they did not think he would have wanted to live like that and he passed away on June 25.

The cause of death was recorded as ‘Hypoxic brain damage/asphyxia due to choking on food’.

Mr Cohran’s GP, Dr Denise Murray, said there was no evidence in Mr Cohran’s medical records that he was epileptic but he had long standing schizophrenia, was a very heavy smoker and had admitted an addiction to smoking and alcohol; neither of which he wanted to give up and he was very happy.

The coroner presiding over the inquest, Alan Craze, said his conclusion into Mr Cohran’s death was that it was accidental.