A 12-year-old boy died tragically after suffering an allergic reaction to his family’s Christmas dinner, which contained nuts, an investigation has heard.
Cason Hallwood, from Winsford, Cheshire, died at the hospital after falling ill while playing with his friends at Wharton Recreation Park on Christmas Day 2 last year, CheshireLive reported.
The young man, who suffered from asthma and had a nut allergy, started having trouble breathing in the park not long after having dinner with his grandparents at his mother Louise and three brothers Cowen, Corley and Caiden.
An investigation into Cason’s death, held at Parr Hall in Warrington on Monday, heard that his grandfather Albert, who made the meal, had “completely forgotten” his allergy and said the icing used on gammon contained nuts.
Despite Louise running to the park to administer an EpiPen as well as efforts from paramedics and doctors, the youngster died after breathing and then cardiac arrest.
Louise presented evidence at the trial to Cheshire senior physician Alan Moore and gave her a heartbreaking account of what happened that day.
The family had sat down to eat dinner around noon. 14.25, and Louise said Cason had “licked her plate clean”.
She said: “He was a bit of a livewire Cason, he did not want to sit and watch TV. He asked if he could go to the park with his mates. I said ‘call me if you need me’ and thus he was gone.
“About 20 minutes later my phone rang and Cason asked if I could send one of the boys with the inhalers. I was not in a panic at this point and one of the twins said they would ride Cason’s bike.
“He was back in about 10 minutes and he said he worked fine. My phone rang again and this time I could tell the inhalers had not worked.”
Louise ran to the park with the EpiPen they had in Cason’s grandparents’ house, which she said was outdated.
“I could immediately see that he had had something because his eyes were all swollen. The EpiPen I was wearing was outdated. The one at my house was on a date, but the one at my mom and dad’s was not, ” she said.
“I was on the phone to the ambulance asking for permission to give it to him because it was obsolete. I gave him the shot and it made no difference.”
She said she was in a panic when the ambulance showed up at the park and said there was a few minutes of confusion as the vehicle went to one entrance and then to another before coming to Cason and transferring him to the ambulance.
Louise said, “Cason said ‘I can not breathe, I’m going to fail’ and I screamed ‘help him’. I then got out of the back of the ambulance, I do not know why, I just could not anymore. “
Cason was driven to Leighton Hospital, where Louise and her mother Helen traveled there in the other ambulance.
“We were just put in a family room when we got there, and within minutes they said they were still working on him, but it didn’t look good,” Louise said.
“They said if there were no signs of life, I should go and say goodbye. I just could not stand it, but they told me that no one should die alone.
“At this point, I was in shock and did not know what was going on. They took me to resus and I saw them work on him. I knew he was gone.”
While in the park, Helen had talked to Cason’s grandfather Albert and asked him “what he had done with the food”.
In a written statement read out by Mr Moore, Albert said: “My wife and I had invited Louise and our grandchildren, including Cason, over to the house for Christmas dinner. Another family was there as well.
“I was making Christmas lunch and had cooked the night before – a beef and a gammon joint. I had completely forgotten Cason’s nut allergy.
“We made the meal and at 2pm the whole family enjoyed our time around the table. I remember Cason licking his plate clean and saying ‘grandpa that was nice’.
“Cason went out to play with his friends. About 45 minutes to an hour later I was told by my wife Helen that Cason was in the park and could not breathe properly.
“Helen asked me what I had done with the food. It was at this point that I realized that the gammon icing I was using had nuts in it. I had completely forgotten all about the nut content in it.
“I told my wife that the icing had nuts in it. My heart sank when I realized this and I was just worried about Cason. As a family, we are completely shattered. Life will never be the same again.”
The family questioned how long it took paramedics to get to the scene and why the ambulance had gone from one entrance to the other before entering the park to treat Cason.
The 999 call was received at 15.18, when the ambulance arrived at the park at 15.33.
Alan Jeeves, a paramedic at the North West Ambulance Service, said: “We were on our way when the satnav that led us was in a position where it was not the right entrance to the park.
“When we arrived at the scene, a young man with a bicycle came to the ambulance and told us that there was another entrance. So me and the other doctor came back in the ambulance and we were directed to another entrance to where Cason was. . “
Asked how much time the confusion had cost them, Mr Jeeves said: “No longer than four or five minutes.”
He said that when they tried to treat Cason, he had become ‘combative’ and was in a ‘state of panic’, which Mr Jeeves put down on hypoxia – lack of oxygen to the body, which can cause patients to act irrationally due to of effect on the brain.
Paramedics treated Cason on the spot until 4:27 p.m., when they took him to Leighton and arrived at the hospital at 4:39 p.m.
The study heard that Cason had been on several treatments for his asthma and had required more visits to the doctor by 2020.
His nut allergy was first diagnosed more than 10 years ago and his mother Louise said she never had any nuts of any description in the house.
It was established during the investigation that the obsolete EpiPen used at Cason in the park would not have caused him any harm but may have had a weaker effect.
An autopsy concluded that Cason died from anaphylactic fatal asthma caused by eating peanuts, with bilateral pneumothorax (collapsed lungs) as a contributing factor.
Moore concluded that Cason died as a result of an accident, adding: “I remember this case. I was sentenced to death on Christmas Day when I took a number of calls. In that sense, I can contact you if I can put it that way.
“That day my heart really went out to you. I could not even imagine what you went through as a family.
“This is a heartbreaking story. I can only say that as a family you have shown, not just today, but all the way since last Christmas, courage and dignity on a scale I have never seen before.”