Teenager who col­lapsed in car park ‘died of nat­u­ral causes’

NINE­TEEN-YEAR-OLD HAD BEEN CEL­E­BRAT­ING WITH BOYFRIEND

Uxbridge Gazette - - News - By QASIM PERACHA qasim.peracha@trin­i­tymir­ror.com Twit­ter: @qasim­per­acha

A 19-YEAR-OLD girl who died after col­laps­ing in the car park of the Intu shop­ping cen­tre, in Uxbridge, died of nat­u­ral causes.

The rul­ing into Alice Brooks’ death from a coro­ner came on Fri­day Septem­ber 21, fol­low­ing a three-day hear­ing at West Lon­don Coro­ner’s Court.

Alice col­lapsed on the fourth floor of the intu Uxbridge car park after spend­ing a day out with her boyfriend, cel­e­brat­ing their 10-month an­niver­sary, in­clud­ing a meal at Waga­mama, in High Street, on No­vem­ber 25 2014. She died in hos­pi­tal three days later.

Since child­hood, Alice suf­fered from a num­ber of al­ler­gies, in­clud­ing la­tex and nuts, as well as se­ri­ous asthma.

Dur­ing the in­quest, the court heard that Alice had run through 19 blue “re­liever” in­halers dur­ing the year lead­ing up to her death.

How­ever, it emerged that she had only used two pur­ple “pre­ven­ter” in­halers dur­ing the same time pe­riod. Her boyfriend Michael Jeffries said she had of­ten used the blue in­haler, but “very rarely” used the pur­ple in­haler in his pres­ence.

Her mother, Suzanne Wilby, de­scribed how her daugh­ter pre­vi­ously suf­fered a re­ac­tion after sip­ping a bot­tle of Coca Cola be­long­ing to some­one who had eaten a Snick­ers bar sev­eral hours ear­lier.

As a child she also suf­fered with heavy breath­ing when some­one sat close to her ate a bag of nuts and one day she was sent home from work­ing in a bak­ery when she had a se­vere re­ac­tion to a col­league bak­ing a wal­nut cake.

Michael Jeffries told the court how he and Alice vis­ited intu Uxbridge to cel­e­brate their an­niver­sary on No­vem­ber 25, 2014.

“It was our 10-month an­niver­sary and for that I sur­prised her by get­ting her tat­too re-done, on her left thigh,” he said.

“After that we went to Uxbridge to do some Christ­mas shop­ping and for lunch. We went to Waga­mama. I’d never been be­fore but she wanted to go there. At that point ev­ery­thing was fine.

“When­ever we went for food she would ask about nuts and look at the al­lergy charts.

“The wait­ress came over and asked what we wanted and Alice asked if there were nuts in the dish she wanted. The man­ager then came over with the al­lergy chart and con­firmed noth­ing on it was in the food

“Alice made sure it didn’t con­tain nuts but she asked to dou­ble check.”

A po­lice of­fi­cer later vis­ited the restau­rant and quizzed staff over al­lergy pro­to­col, while a Hilling­don Coun­cil in­spec­tor in­ves­ti­gated the restau­rant and even or­dered the same food Alice did – ginger chicken noo­dles with tofu – and sent it for in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

It emerged that there was a trace of peanuts in the tofu, at the very bot­tom of the de­tec­tion lim­its ruled by in­spec­tors, how­ever it was ruled that this was “spu­ri­ous” and could al­ter with the amount served and its prepa­ra­tion. Waga­mama made some mi­nor changes to pro­ce­dure in re­sponse, but the coro­ner’s re­marks in­cluded a men­tion of the com­pany be­ing an “early lead­ing adapter of food al­lergy la­belling”. Just a few days after Alice’s death, new na­tional food la­belling reg­u­la­tions came in to force.

“We fin­ished the food and went out and we car­ried on to do more Christ­mas shop­ping,” Michael said.

“We were walk­ing into The Pav­il­ions when she started to feel un­well so we de­cided to walk back to the car.

“She used her in­haler, which lev­elled her breath­ing out, but only for a bit and then it was get­ting worse and worse ev­ery time. I’d never seen her breath­ing so bad.

“We got to the fourth floor of the car park and into the car and then she said she re­ally didn’t feel very good.

“She said her throat was frozen up and her breath­ing was re­ally bad at that point. Her lips started turn­ing blue and that was when she had an ana­phy­lac­tic shock – in the driver’s seat. I got her out of the car and stood over her and her breath­ing got worse.

“She got her Epipen out but she passed out be­fore she could use it. She told me to get it from her bag. I took it and put it in her right thigh.”

Michael rang 999 and told the op­er­a­tor his girl­friend was hav­ing an ana­phy­lac­tic shock.

A solo re­spon­der ar­rived and within min­utes a med­i­cal tech­ni­cian, Stephen Hale, was sin­gle­hand­edly giv­ing Alice life sup­port after she slipped into a car­diac ar­rest.

Mr Hale told the in­quest: “I re­mem­ber find­ing Alice ly­ing be­tween parked cars sur­rounded by in­halers. I can’t re­mem­ber how many but cer­tainly more than one.

“Her boyfriend said he used an Epipen and she had a re­ac­tion after they ate at Waga­mama.

“Within one minute of me ar­riv­ing she went into car­diac ar­rest and I gave ba­sic life sup­port with de­com­pres­sions and mask and air.”

Two other am­bu­lances ar­rived but were un­able to en­ter the car park. Paramedics found their way to the vic­tim and helped re­sus­ci­tate her be­fore trans­port­ing her to Hilling­don Hos­pi­tal for fur­ther treat­ment.

She was ini­tially treated there, be­fore be­ing moved to St Thomas’ Hos­pi­tal, where both her doc­tors and pathol­o­gists be­lieved the cause of death to be re­lated to her “long his­tory of un­con­trolled asthma” and not re­lated to her al­ler­gies.

A writ­ten state­ment read in court from Dr An­drew Jones, who treated her at St Thomas,’ de­scribed that Alice suf­fered a “cat­a­strophic brain in­jury” and had a “com­plete ab­sence of brain func­tion”.

Alice’s fam­ily made the de­ci­sion to re­move her from life sup­port in the early hours of No­vem­ber 29 2014.

The coro­ner, Dr Sean Cum­mings, con­cluded on Fri­day Septem­ber 21 that her death was from nat­u­ral causes, rul­ing that it oc­curred from “the con­se­quences of an acute or chronic asthma at­tack”.

A spokesman for Waga­mama said: “The coro­ner’s ver­dict on the tragic death of Alice Brooks was that she died from acute or chronic asthma.

“This brings to an end a dev­as­tat­ing se­ries of events her fam­ily have had to en­dure for nearly four years. It is hard for any­one, other than them, to fully un­der­stand how they have lived with the loss of such a beau­ti­ful daugh­ter, sis­ter and friend.

“We send our sin­cere con­do­lences and best wishes to all her loved ones, in par­tic­u­lar her proud and lov­ing mum.”

When­ever we went for food she would ask about nuts and look at the al­lergy charts Boyfriend Michael Jeffries

The intu Uxbridge shop­ping cen­tre car park

PHOTO: DAR­REN PEPE

The cou­ple had been for a meal at Waga­mama

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