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Boy, 12, died after suffering allergic reaction to Christmas dinner, inquest hears

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A 12-year-old boy died in hospital after suffering from an allergic reaction to his family’s Christmas dinner which contained nuts, an inquest has heard.

Cason Hallwood, from Winsford, had been playing with friends when he began to have trouble breathing and collapsed at Wharton Recreation Ground – hours after he had Christmas dinner with his mother, three brothers and his grandparents last year.

Despite the schoolboy’s mother Louise running to the park to administer an EpiPen, as well as the efforts of paramedics and doctors, Cason, who suffered from asthma and had a nut allergy, went into respiratory and then cardiac arrest.  

He was rushed to Leighton Hospital in Crewe but died a short time later. 

An inquest into Cason’s death at Warrington Coroner’s Court, sitting at Parr Hall due to Covid-19 restrictions, today heard that his grandfather, who cooked the meal, had ‘forgotten’ about his allergy and the glaze used on the family’s gammon contained nuts. 

Cason Hallwood, 12, from Winsford, died on Christmas Day last year after suffering from an allergic reaction

Cason Hallwood, 12, from Winsford, died on Christmas Day last year after suffering from an allergic reaction

Giving evidence at the inquest to senior coroner for Cheshire Alan Moore, Cason’s mother said the family had sat down to eat dinner at around 2.25pm before her son set off to the park with his friends. 

She said: ‘He was a bit of a livewire Cason, he didn’t want to sit and watch telly. He asked if he could go to the park with his mates. I said ”ring me if you need me” and with that he was gone

‘About 20 minutes later my phone goes and Cason asked if I could send one of the boys with the inhalers. I didn’t panic at this point and one of the twins said they’d go on Cason’s bike.

‘He was back in about 10 minutes and he said he seemed fine. My phone went again and this time I could tell that the inhalers hadn’t worked.’

The schoolboy’s mother described how she then ran to the park with the EpiPen they kept at Cason’s grandparents house, which she said was out of date.

‘I could tell straight away that he’d had something because his eyes were all puffy. The EpiPen I had on me was out of date. The one at my house was in date but the one at my mum and dad’s wasn’t,’ she said. 

‘I was on the phone to the ambulance and asked permission to give it to him because it was out of date. I gave him the shot and it made no difference.’ 

Louise described how she was ‘panicking’ when the ambulance turned up  and said there were a few minutes of confusion when the vehicle went to one entrance and then to another before getting to Cason and transferring him into the ambulance. 

Cason (second right) had eaten Christmas dinner with his mother Louise and three brothers (all pictured together) before heading out to play with his friends at Wharton Recreation Ground in Cheshire

Cason (second right) had eaten Christmas dinner with his mother Louise and three brothers (all pictured together) before heading out to play with his friends at Wharton Recreation Ground in Cheshire

In January this year hundreds of mourners lined the street for the funeral of the schoolboy

In January this year hundreds of mourners lined the street for the funeral of the schoolboy

Mourners paid their respects as the schoolboy's coffin was taken through the streets by a white horse-drawn carriage

Mourners paid their respects as the schoolboy’s coffin was taken through the streets by a white horse-drawn carriage

She continued: ‘Cason was saying ”I can’t breathe, I’m going to pass out” and I was screaming ”help him”. I then got out the back of the ambulance, I don’t know why, I just couldn’t take it anymore.’

Cason was taken to Leighton Hospital, with Louise and her mother Helen travelling there in the second 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 was not looking good,’ Louise said.

‘They said if there’s no sign of life, I would have to go and say goodbye. I just could not bear it but they told me that nobody should die alone.

‘At this point I was in shock and did not know what was going on. They took me into resus and I saw them working on him. I knew then he was gone.’

In a written statement read out by My Moore, Cason’s grandfather Albert said: ‘My wife and I had invited Louise and our grandchildren, including Cason, over to the house for Christmas dinner. Other family were also there. 

Hundreds of people paid tribute to the schoolboy after he suffered an allergic reaction and died last year

Hundreds of people paid tribute to the schoolboy after he suffered an allergic reaction and died last year

‘I was cooking Christmas dinner and had prepped the night before – a beef joint and a gammon joint. I had completely forgotten about Cason’s nut allergy.

‘We cooked the meal and at 2pm all the family enjoyed our time around the table. I remember Cason licking his plate clean and saying ”grandad that was lovely”.

‘Cason went out to play with his mates. Around 45 minutes to an hour later, I was told by my wife Helen that Cason was at the park and couldn’t breathe properly.

‘Helen asked me what I’d done with the food. It was at this point I realised that the gammon glaze I used had nuts in it. I had completely forgotten about the nut content of it.

‘I told my wife that the glaze had nuts in it. My heart sank as I realised this and I was just worried for Cason. As a family we are completely heartbroken. Life will never be the same again.’

During the inquest, the family questioned the length of time it took paramedics to get to the scene and why the ambulance had gone from one entrance to another before entering the park to treat Cason.

The 999 call was received at 3.18pm with the ambulance arriving at the park at 3.33pm.

Alan Jeeves, a paramedic with North West Ambulance Service, said: ‘We were on route when the satnav leading us put is in a position where it wasn’t the right entrance to the park.

‘When we arrived at the scene a young man with a bike came to the ambulance and told us there was another entrance. So me and the other paramedic got back into the ambulance and we were directed to another entrance to where Cason was.’

When asked how much time the confusion had cost them, Mr Jeeves said: ‘No longer than four or five minutes.’

He said when they were trying to treat Cason he had become ‘combative’ and was in a ‘state of panic’, which Mr Jeeves put down to hypoxia – a lack of oxygen to the body which can cause patients to act irrationally due to the effect on the brain.

The paramedics treated Cason at the scene until about 4.27pm when they took him to Leighton, arriving at the hospital at 4.39pm.

The inquest heard that Cason had been on multiple treatments for his asthma and had required several visits to the doctor in 2020.

His nut allergy was first diagnosed more than ten years ago, and his mother Louise said she never kept any nuts ‘of any description’ in the house.

It was established at the inquest that the out-of-date EpiPen used on Cason at the park would not have caused him any harm but may have had a weaker effect.

A post-mortem concluded that Cason died as a result of anaphylactic fatal asthma which was caused by peanut ingestion, with bilateral pneumothorax (collapsed lungs) as a contributing factor.

Mr Moore concluded that Cason died as a result of an accident, adding: ‘I remember this case. I was the coroner on duty on Christmas Day when I took a number of calls. In that sense, I can connect with you if I can put it that way.

‘On that day, my heart really went out to you. I couldn’t even imagine what you were going through as a family.

‘This is a heartbreaking story. I can only say that as a family you have displayed, not just today but throughout since last Christmas, courage and dignity on a scale that I have never seen before.’



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