File photo: freeimages.
File photo: freeimages.

Woman chokes to death on marshmallow trying to copy reality show challenge

By IZZY FERRIS Time of article published Dec 20, 2019

Share this article:

A woman choked to death on a marshmallow after saying she wanted to copy a challenge she had watched on Love Island, an inquest heard.

Mia Austin, 30, had seen contestants on the reality show try to stuff as many marshmallows as possible into their mouths.

Miss Austin, who had "locked-in syndrome" after a stroke which left her unable to move or speak, had indicated to her mother she wanted to try the game with two friends.

The inquest was told she was at a holiday park in North Wales with her mother and a carer when a single marshmallow was placed in her mouth.

The former travel agent began to choke and was unable to cough up the sweet. She became unconscious and died at the scene, despite the efforts of those in the chalet, holiday park staff and paramedics.

It was unclear if she was attempting the challenge at the time, or was merely eating one of the marshmallows. She had shaken her head to say "no" when the carer had suggested the sweet needed cutting.

Her mother Carol Ann Austin told the inquest: "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."

Mrs Austin added that, after her daughter’s stroke at age 21, she communicated using gestures or by a computer which tracked her eye movements.

Immediately after the stroke she was fed a liquid diet but had progressed to eating soft food over the years.

There had been previous choking incidents, including another at the holiday park in Abersoch involving a burger, with paramedics called on each occasion and the family given suction equipment to assist.

Mrs Austin, from Bebington, Merseyside, said consultants had warned the family to be careful while her daughter was eating.

Pathologist Dr Mohammed Aslam told the hearing in Caernarfon that her death on June 26 was due to asphyxia with her condition noted as a contributory factor.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, North Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones said the stroke had taken away Miss Austin’s ability to cough or bring up anything that would cause choking.

"She wanted some marshmallows and one was later put in her mouth," he said. "This caused a blockage in her airway and, as she was unable to bring it up, it caused asphyxiation."

During the inquest, the coroner heard Miss Austin suffered a stroke ten years ago despite being perfectly healthy. Her parents were told the stroke would prove fatal, but she defied the odds and survived, travelling around the world and writing a book about her life story using just her eyes, called In the Blink of an Eye.

She died just two days before she was named Merseyside Woman of the Year 2019 for her charity work and had been excited at the prospect of attending the ceremony, the inquest heard.

Mrs Austin has spoken of her daughter’s determination and bravery, saying: "When these things happen you can either sink or swim, but Mia is so determined and is so stubborn that she just gets on with it.

"She is so beautiful, bubbly and lively. She was a party animal before her incident but doesn’t let it stop her doing anything now, either – she doesn’t class herself as disabled.’

Daily Mail

Share this article: