Man, 23, Dies After Eating Slice Of Pizza

James Atkinson, a 23-year-old man, died after eating a slice of pizza, an inquest hears.
Credit: Family Handout

A 23-year-old man died after eating a slice of pizza, a new inquest has heard.

James Atkinson, originally from Leeds, tragically passed away in July 2020 after ordering a pizza on Deliveroo.

The ‘bright and bubbly’ Newcastle University graduate became rapidly unwell, and soon after was struggling to breathe.

He called an ambulance along with his flatmate and was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle at around 8:40pm.

However, despite help from medics, Atkinson died at 09:21pm.

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Atkinson’s parents, Jill and Stuart, shared a heartbreaking statement, saying: “James had a gift of making others happy, checking in on friends and offering support when needed.

“To be in his company with his amazing sense of humour and infectious laugh was a privilege.

“First on the dance floor and last to leave, James lived life to its fullest but also had a sensitive and thoughtful side.

“His whole family meant the world to him. He was loving, kind and caring.

“James’s sudden death has left an insurmountable hole in our hearts.

“He had his whole life ahead of him full of future plans and dreams that will not be realised or witnessed by his family.

“No more memories to make.

“We were blessed to have him for the 23 years that we did. He is irreplaceable.

“However, to honour him we hold a forever space in our hearts and carry him with us always – our beautiful boy, James.”

James Atkinson
James Atkinson died after eating a slice of pizza, an inquest has heard. Credit: Family Handout

Atkinson passed away after eating food ordered via Deliveroo from the Newcastle restaurant Dadyal on July 10, 2020.

A Home Office pathologist told the inquest that he died from anaphylaxis as a result of peanut ingestion, as per the BBC.

The hearing was also informed that Atkinson told paramedics he was going to die before he lost consciousness.

Atkinson was working as a computer programmer and living in Jesmond, Newcastle, at the time of his death.

The inquest heard that he had ordered a chicken tikka masala pizza, chips and other Indian food alongside his flatmate.

His flatmate confirmed to the inquest that Atkinson had searched the internet to check for potential allergens in the foods he had ordered.

The flatmate also claims that Atkinson had eaten just a few chips and less than one slice of the pizza before he realised something was badly wrong.

Slice of pizza.
The inquest heard that James Atkinson had ordered a chicken tikka masala pizza, chips and other Indian food alongside his flatmate. Credit: Alamy

His flatmate then began searching, unsuccessfully, for Atkinson’s EpiPen, while Atkinson quickly called an ambulance.

Craig Hassall KC, representing the family, told the inquest that by the time the paramedics arrived, Atkinson told them he was going to die.

Home Office pathologist, Dr Jennifer Bolton, confirmed Atkinson was already ‘gasping for air’ by the time medical aid reached him.

At the scene of his flat, Atkinson was assessed to have a Glasgow coma score of three, and Dr Bolton said he was ‘profoundly unconscious’.

Toxicology tests showed he had no alcohol or other drugs in his system at the time of his death, so his decision-making ability could not have been impaired.

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Having been diagnosed with a peanut allergy 10 years earlier, Dr Jennifer Bolton claims Atkinson was known to be ‘usually very good’ at taking care of his health.

The leftover takeaway food was reportedly analysed and proven to contain traces of peanuts.

Based on this, Dr Bolton gave the cause of death as anaphylaxis following peanut ingestion.

Dr Bolton added: “Even with the appropriate use of an EpiPen, there’s no guarantee that an individual will survive, but it certainly increases your chances.”

She went on: “He experienced his difficulty in breathing and he was becoming aware it was getting worse, (and) individuals do sometimes say ‘I am going to die’.

“Medically, that is taken very seriously. Everybody is still doing everything they can to stop that being the case, and, in fact, to prove the individual wrong.”

The inquest continues and is expected to last two more weeks.

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.