A family’s first seaside holiday together ended in tragedy when a three-year-old girl choked to death on a sausage and chip takeaway, an inquest heard today.
Ellie Conlon, from Redditch, Worcestershire, had talked excitedly about seeing the sea for the first time as her parents drove their two young children down to Brean, Somerset, for the weekend.
They had stopped in Weston-super-Mare to enjoy a takeaway in the sunshine, when the toddler started choking on the sausage and chips she had begged her father, James, to buy.
Mr Conlon desperately tried to dislodge the sausage from her airways, but watched helplessly as she changed colour and became limp.
A passing police officer gave her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as a crowd of holidaymakers gathered round to see if they could help.
But despite his best efforts she was pronounced dead a short time later in the town’s hospital.
An inquest at Flax Bourton, near Bristol, today heard how the paramedic who arrived at the scene on July 15 last year was working alone and had to ask a police officer to drive the ambulance for him.
Scott Andrews would normally have been working alongside another paramedic, but was forced to answer the call on his own.
He asked Pc David Adams to drive Ellie to the hospital with the lights flashing and the siren on.
But the policeman was unable to use the vehicle’s radio system to give the hospital a pre-alert warning that they were on their way.
He was told to go inside the hospital and shout "paediatric cardiac arrest" to get the doctors’ attention.
However, the court heard that even if the Great Western Ambulance was double-staffed it would have not saved the girl’s life.
A pathologist gave her cause of death as accidental asphyxiated.
Brian Whitehouse, the deputy coroner for Avon, later asked Detective Sergeant Andy Eastwood, who investigated the accident, whether Ellie’s life could have been saved if the ambulance had been doubled crewed.
"I don’t think it would have made any difference," he replied.
Mr Eastwood said it only took four minutes for the ambulance to arrive at the scene and was driven to the hospital a short time later.
In recording a death by misadventure, Mr Whitehouse said: "This must be one of the saddest cases I have ever had to deal with."