A FATHER died after choking on a steak at a romantic dinner with his wife, an inquest has heard.
Mark Higham, 60, had been having a meal with his wife Lynne, when he started choking after eating three or mouthfuls of food.
Mark Higham with wife Lynne, three weeks before his death. (Manchester Evening News).
After seeing him struggle, his wife then took her husband to the restaurant toilets and slapped him on the back and did a finger sweep of his mouth, to try and free the blocked food.
She then tried to carry out the Heimlich Manoeuvre but told Bolton Coroner’s Court that she was not strong enough, the Manchester Evening News reports.
After calling for help, staff at Gallimore’s Fine Restaurant, in Wigan, tried to help save Mr Higham by slapping his back and giving him CPR.
Paramedic Lee Hardman arrived at the scene shortly after and told the court that after carrying out checks he couldn’t see any food stuck in Mr Higham’s throat.
The retired electrician then entered cardiac arrest and was taken to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary, where he was pronounced dead a few hours later.
Dr Rafat Saad, the lead clinician in intensive care, said he managed to remove a small piece of food from Mr Higham’s windpipe, which would have been too far down to have been seen by paramedics.
A post-mortem confirmed the cause of death was ‘choking on food’.
Earlier in the hearing, Mrs Higham told the court that her husband had suffered a number of strokes, including a major one in 2017, and had Parkinson’s disease.
Pathologist, Dr Emil Salmo told the court that people with Parkinson’s disease can be ‘susceptible’ to choking.
The previous strokes and Mr Higham’s condition were recorded as a contributory factor towards his death.
His wife has said she is still reliving the awful night that happened in April last year, and paid tribute to her “wonderful” husband.
She told the court he had grown up in the Whitley area and had attended Wigan Grammar, before going on to study Electrical Engineering at Imperial College London.
He worked as a chartered electrical engineer, before his retirement due to ill health in around 2013.
Mrs Higham said: “He was just a kind, wonderful father and husband. He was looking forward to being a grandfather.
“He loved to go on holiday three to four times a year and he liked his steam trains.”
Speaking about the night of the incident, she added: “I’m still reliving it everyday”.
John Gallimore, the owner of the restaurant said “it was a terrible night for everybody” and added that 12 members of staff had first aid training, and two of the designated lifesavers were working that night.
He told the court he did not believe his staff or himself could have done any more to help Mr Higham.
Assistant coroner for Manchester West, Simon Nelson, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: “Against a background of increasing frailty and physical health, following a major stroke in 2017, the deceased accidentally choked on a bolus of food, ingested at a local restaurant in Wigan.
“Notwithstanding extensive emergency care given by both staff and paramedics at the scene, he was conveyed to the Royal Albert Edward Infirmary Wigan, where the fact of his death was confirmed at 3.25am on August 28.”
Mr Nelson added: “From everything I have heard and read, I have no doubt in my mind that Mr Higham was a very, very fine individual.”