A Man Died After Eating A Dish That Was So Spicy, It Burned His Throat And Caused Him To Stop Breathing

Darren Hickey's voice box swelled up after eating a spicy fishcake, causing him to asphyxiate.

a plate of spicy chiles
chrizzel_lu / Pixabay

Darren Hickey's voice box swelled up after eating a spicy fishcake, causing him to asphyxiate.

An English man died after eating a fishcake that was so hot (spicy) that it burned the back of his throat and caused him to asphyxiate, The Bolton News reports. So severe were the injuries to Darren Hickey’s throat and esophagus that the coroner compared them to the burns suffered by people who die in fires.

This week, a coroner’s inquest released its findings into what caused the popular wedding planner to die after the events that transpired on April 4 and 5. According to their findings, it was a food sample that ended the life of the 51-year-old man.

On the day that he died, Hickey was living and working as a wedding planner at Ridgmont House, a popular wedding venue in Chorley Old Road, about 200 miles north of London. One of the chefs asked Hickey to sample a dish, a spicy fishcake.

Pathologist Dr. Patrick Waugh explains what happened next.

“He’s had hot food and stated, ‘I’ve burned my throat.’ Then there’s pain and he would have had difficulty swallowing because of the pain and then he would have had more swelling which would have made it difficult to breathe or swallow,” he said.

On the afternoon of April 4, Hickey went to urgent care but was only given acetaminophen and sent home. Waugh says that it’s likely the staff there weren’t aware of what they were dealing with because injuries from spicy food are so rare.

a plate of spicy thai fishcakes
  Alpha / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Later that night, Hickey’s partner heard him coughing and gasping and called an ambulance. Paramedics administered aid at the scene and then rushed him to the hospital. In the wee hours of the morning of April 5, Hickey died.

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So severe were his injuries that Dr. Waugh compared them to injuries normally seen in patients who die in fires or industrial accidents.

“Basically, we normally see this scenario in people who are involved in house fires with inhalation of smoke which burns the airways or in industrial accidents with hot steam,” he said.

This is not the first time that someone is known to have died from eating spicy food. Back in 2016, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, a 2-year-old Indian girl died after accidentally biting into a hot pepper. It wasn’t burns from the pepper directly that caused the young girl’s death, but rather, subsequent vomiting. Authorities believe the girl vomited from the chili pepper and aspirated some of the fluid into her lungs. She was taken to a hospital, where she later died of respiratory failure.