Woman choked to death on a marshmallow in reality TV challenge

A disabled woman choked to death on a marshmallow after trying to copy a challenge she saw on a reality TV show, an inquest has heard.

Mia Austin, 30, who had a rare neurological disorder called locked-in syndrome, died after one of the sweet treats got lodged in her throat while at a holiday park in North Wales, in the UK, in June.

She had earlier asked her mum to buy some marshmallows after seeing them used in a game on ITV’s Love Island, a show where men and women participate in a series of tasks with a partner.

“Apparently on Love Island they did a marshmallow challenge, you put marshmallows in the mouth. That's what she wanted to do with two friends,” her mum Carol told the inquest.

Mia had locked-in syndrome and died after choking on a marshmallow. Source: Australscope

The hearing was told Mia's carer offered to cut the sweet before placing it in her mouth, but Mia shook her head to say “no”.

Shortly after however, Mia began to panic and choke. Paramedics were called to the holiday park but she could not be saved.

The inquest heard Mia was fed a liquid-only diet after suffering the stroke at age 21, but was eventually able to transition into eating soft food.

Death was accidental

Her family had been equipped with specialist medical equipment to use if Mia began choking, as she had previously experienced issues with swallowing food, but sadly they were not able to save her.

The coroner ruled her death was accidental and that the marshmallow “caused a blockage in her airway and, as she was unable to bring it up, it caused asphyxiation”.

Mia had been fit and healthy before suffering her stroke and afterwards had learned to communicate through a spell chart and computer.

She even wrote a book about coping with her condition and was posthumously named her home town’s “woman of the year” two days after she died.


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