Last September, Ben Curran Nicholls went for a daily walk with his father at his home in Manchester, England.
They went to Fletcher Moss Botanical Gardens, where the 14-year-old climbed trees and had a blast.
Along the way, the autistic boy ate two berries from a yew tree.
He writes that it cost him his life Manchester Evening News.
All parts of the yew are poisonous, according to The Great Norwegian Encyclopedia. The plant contains a highly toxic alkaloid taxi.
He had a heart attack
That same evening, Curran Nichols became violently ill, and collapsed on the floor at home.
Several attempts were made to revive the boy at Manchester Royal Children’s Hospital, but to no avail.
His heart stopped and he was pronounced dead a short time later.
His autopsy confirmed that yew poisoning was the cause of death.
Sound the alarm
The tragic death was routinely investigated.
In the so-called “Preventing future deaths” report. Forensic scientist Andrew Bridgman comes forward with a clear speech to British public health authorities and Manchester City Council.
He writes that Ben’s father had no idea that yew was life-threatening, and that this underscores the importance of informing residents – especially caregivers – about toxic plants and trees.
Yew also grows in Norway.
“Berries and the like can be tempting to children who are unaware of their dangers and hazards, and who do not know that they can get sick and die. Clearly the fact that yew is poisonous is not sufficiently known by the population,” he writes.
Fears other consequences
After the tragedy, according to the Manchester Evening News, the authorities considered placing signs in the park warning against eating the yew.
They are said to have dropped the plans for fear that suicidal people would eat the berries.
He fears another death
Coroner Bridgman asks authorities to think twice.
“There is a risk of another death occurring under similar circumstances. Clearly informing the population will reduce the risk of these deaths – perhaps especially for children, if their carers are informed.”
British public health authorities and Manchester City Council have not yet commented on the report to British media.
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