Thomas Ford: Fruit-choked boy's mum 'thought he was dead'

Thomas Ford Image copyright Serena Ford
Image caption Thomas Ford choked while eating a blackberry on a family walk

The mother of a boy who choked on fruit feared he was already dead as she tried to save him, an inquest heard.

Thomas Ford, of Stalham, Norfolk, fell unconscious while on a walk with his father and sister in September.

The 15-month-old was given CPR by both parents, an inquest in Norwich heard.

His mother Serena, a nurse, said: "His eyes were fixed and dilated. I knew this meant he was dead." Paramedics later found a pulse but Thomas did not recover and died three days later.

He had suffered a severe brain injury caused by choking, which coroner David Osborne concluded led to his accidental death.


Thomas's father Robert had the toddler in a carrier on his back when he handed him a blackberry picked from a bush near their home on 27 September.

More on this and other stories from Norfolk.

Seconds later, he heard Thomas coughing and initially struggled to take off the carrier but when he did he patted the toddler's back and carried out the Heimlich manoeuvre [abdominal thrusts].

"I forced his mouth open, checked his tongue, which seemed fine, and couldn't feel for anything down his throat," said Mr Ford in a statement read to Norwich Coroner's Court.

"I pumped his chest six or seven times and gave him mouth-to-mouth."

The court heard he called his wife Serena, who arrived by bicycle from the family home and shouted at him to call an ambulance as she took over CPR.

Mrs Ford, whose evidence was also read out in court, said she carried out mouth-to-mouth but Thomas's chest was not lifting.

"I checked his eyes and they were fixed and dilated and as a nurse I know what this means.

Image caption In an interview with the BBC, Serena Ford said her family had gone through a "living nightmare"

"I know that meant he was dead."

An ambulance and air ambulance were called to the scene, before Thomas was flown to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

He was later transferred to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, where he died in his parents' arms on 30 September.

'Fun and mischievous'

"I miss him and I love him. I would do anything to have him back," said Mrs Ford.

They described Thomas as "fun and mischievous" boy who was nicknamed DJ Thomas because he loved music.

Five steps if someone chokes

  1. Encourage the person to cough
  2. With the person leaning forward, give up to five sharp back blows between their shoulder blades
  3. For a baby, lay them face down on a thigh and support their head. Give up to five blows between their shoulder blades
  4. If they are over one year old, give up to five abdominal thrusts
  5. If that does not work, call for an ambulance, repeating the steps above until it arrives.

Source: St John Ambulance

Mr Ford added: "I hope nothing like this happens to anyone else. I loved him so very much... I miss my little man."

Assistant Norfolk coroner Mr Osborne expressed his condolences to the Ford family.

"I am satisfied Thomas's parents did absolutely everything they could have to done in response as Thomas started to choke," he added.

Related Topics

More on this story