Boy, 12, died after allergic reaction to Christmas dinner that contained nuts

·6-min read
Cason Hallwood, 12, died after suffering an allergic reaction to his Christmas dinner. (Reach)

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

Cason Hallwood, from Winsford, Cheshire, collapsed in a park then died in hospital after his dinner on Christmas Day last year.

He suffered from asthma and had a nut allergy. However, an inquest in Warrington on Monday heard his grandfather had “completely forgotten” about his allergy and used a glaze on the gammon that contained nuts.

Cason began struggling with his breathing about an hour after finishing his dinner while he was playing with friends at Wharton Recreation Park.

He had eaten Christmas dinner at his grandparents’ house with his mother Louise and three brothers Cowen, Corley and Caiden.

Cason died after going into respiratory arrest and then cardiac arrest despite the efforts of paramedics and doctors, and his mother who ran to the park to administer an EpiPen.

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Louise told Cheshire senior coroner Alan Moore at the inquest that Cason had “licked his plate clean” at Christmas dinner.

“He was a bit of a livewire, Cason, he didn’t want to sit and watch telly,” she said. 

“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."

Louise ran to the park with an EpiPen kept at Cason’s grandparents’ house.

“I could tell straight away that he'd had something because his eyes were all puffy,” she said. “The EpiPen I had on me was out of date.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.

"I was on the phone to the ambulance and asked permission to give it to him because it was out of date.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."

Mourners lined the streets for Cason Hallwood's funeral in January of this year. (Reach)

She said there were a few minutes of confusion when the ambulance called to the scene went to one entrance and then to another before getting to her son.

”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 any more."

Cason later died at Leighton Hospital in Crewe.

In a written statement read out by Mr Moore at the inquest, 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.

“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, ‘Granddad 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."

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 and the ambulance arrived at the park at 3.33pm.

Alan Jeeves, a paramedic with North West Ambulance Service, said: "We were on route when the sat-nav leading us put us in a position where it wasn't the right entrance to the park.

Cason Hallwood struggled with his breathing in a park then died later in hospital. (Reach)

"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."

Mr Jeeves said Cason became “combative” and was in a “state of panic” during treatment, which he put down to hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the body that can cause patients to act irrationally due to the effect on the brain.

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The inquest heard 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 10 years ago, and his mother Louise said she never kept any nuts “of any description” in the house.

The inquest heard 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 examination found that Cason died as a result of anaphylactic fatal asthma that 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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