A great-grandmother today told an inquest how she had tried to save her husband as he choked to death on a piece of steak on New Year’s Day.
Naval veteran Peter Jackson was enjoying a family lunch at the Globe Hotel in King Street, Lynn, on January 1 when tragedy struck.
At an inquest into the 84-year-old’s death yesterday, Mr Jackson’s wife Vera said she was returning to their table after ordering desserts when she heard him coughing and struggling for breath.
In a statement read at the hearing, she said: “It was a quiet cough that he’d had for about six to nine months and only happened when he was eating food.
“When I realised he was really struggling I tried to get behind him and dislodge whatever was stuck, but my husband’s a big chap and I couldn’t do it.”
Mr Jackson’s daughter Lyn Wenn also tried to dislodge the food without success, before staff at the Globe called 999 and got him to the floor to try and resuscitate him.
Air and land ambulance crews arrived on the scene, and removed the piece of steak with forceps.
“I could see they went into his neck to get whatever was stuck out,” said Mrs Jackson.
“After 20 minutes a doctor came over and said ‘sorry’ as they couldn’t get his heart started again.”
The inquest, held at Lynn County Court, heard the cause of death was asphyxiation caused by aspiration of food.
During the hearing, Mrs Wenn said the family had wondered whether her father’s asbestos-related lung disease, pleural plaques, had contributed to him choking in anyway.
Mr Jackson, of Windsor Park, Lynn, had been exposed to the toxic material during his time in the Navy, and had been diagnosed with the condition just over a year before the incident.
“The doctor had said there was nothing that could be done for him, and that at 84-years-old, he’d had ‘good innings’. He took that as a terminal diagnosis and thought he was dying,” said Mrs Wenn.
But Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake said evidence showed that the illness was not a contributory factor.
“The post-mortem revealed several natural diseases present, although none were considered a contributory cause of death. It was directly related to the choking incident,” she said.
She recorded a verdict of accidental death and expressed her sympathy to the family.
During the hearing, there was also praise for the “fantastic” staff at the Globe Hotel and the emergency services.
And in a letter to the Lynn News last month, Mrs Jackson said: “ I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all who helped that day. The staff at the Globe Hotel couldn’t have done more to help, from the emergency aid and calm and compassionate care to the practical help and support they offered.
“Much is said about the failures in the NHS but our experience was very different, from the first responders to the helicopter crew, each and everyone who arrived did everything they could and worked tirelessly to try and revive my husband.
“The police officers who attended were also professional and caring.
“To the other customers, we can’t imagine what it must have been like to try and continue with your New Year celebrations but we appreciated your respectful distance (and the hugs) . As we said our final goodbyes we were thankful for all the people who stepped up to help.”