Student choked to death during Christmas meal
PUBLISHED: 16:01 19 November 2010
A CELEBRATION turned to tragedy when a student choked to death during a Christmas meal with friends, an inquest heard today.
Computer programmer Greg Beckett, aged 23, died the day before Christmas Eve last year after returning home to Weston from Oxford Brookes University for the festive holiday.
He had been attending a get-together with friends at Sousta’s Greek restaurant in Congresbury, but slumped to the ground minutes after tucking into his steak dinner.
Waiters and fellow diners – one a trained nurse – tried to revive him, but their attempts to administer the Heimlich manoeuvre and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation proved in vain.
Mr Beckett was pronounced dead after being rushed to Weston General Hospital by ambulance.
Daniel Matthews, who attended the meal, told the inquest at Flax Bourton Coroner’s Court how his friend had tried to alert pals after he began choking by patting his chest and pointing to his back.
In a written statement, Mr Matthews said: “Two males on another table realised what was happening and came over to help.
‘’They did the Heimlich manoeuvre, which went on for a few minutes.
‘’Laura James dialled 999 and there were instructions from the control room about how to help - but nothing was working.”
Paramedics arrived 10 minutes later, while staff and diners, including a trained nurse, were still desperately trying to save the unconscious student’s life.
At one point he opened his eyes and squeezed a friend’s hand, but lost consciousness again a minute later.
Speaking after the incident, Sousta owner Christina Kimitri described it as ‘terrible’.
She said: ‘’The group had all had their starters and then I was told Greg had had one bite of his steak. The next minute he was on the floor.
‘’It was a terrible night and we didn’t open the next day as it was too distressing. I will never forget it.’’
A post-mortem examination confirmed Mr Beckett had died after aspiration of food - although no pieces of the steak were found.
Avon Coroner Terry Moore ruled a verdict of accidental death.