Trainee pilot from Suffolk died after mosquito bite, inquest hears

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Oriana Pepper at the controls of an airplaneImage source, Family Photo
Image caption,
Oriana Pepper's family said she "loved nothing better than to go flying"

A trainee commercial airline pilot died after she was bitten by a mosquito and developed an infection that spread to her brain, an inquest heard.

Oriana Pepper, 21, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, died five days after she was bitten while in Antwerp, Belgium last July.

Suffolk's senior coroner Nigel Parsley said it was an "unfortunate tragedy for a young lady who clearly had a wonderful career ahead of her".

He recorded a narrative conclusion.

Suffolk Coroner's Court in Ipswich heard Miss Pepper had passed her theory exams on the EasyJet programme in Oxford with "flying colours" and had gone to Belgium for her instrument ratings.

She attended a hospital's accident and emergency department on 7 July after the bite, by her right eye, appeared swollen and infected.

Miss Pepper was prescribed antibiotics but she was driven back to the hospital two days later by her boyfriend after she collapsed.

She died in hospital three days later on 12 July 2021.

The medical cause of her death was recorded as septic emboli in the brain, which are obstructions of blood vessels, with an infection by bacteria called staphylococcus aureus and an insect bite to the forehead also contributing.

'Fulfilling her dreams'

Mr Parsley, recording a narrative conclusion, said Miss Pepper died "as a result of a serious infection caused by an insect bite to the forehead".

He said: "I've never seen a case like this before.

"It's just one of those things that's just such an unfortunate tragedy for a young lady who clearly had a wonderful career and life ahead of her."

In a statement read during the hearing, Miss Pepper's father Tristan said his daughter "loved nothing better than to go flying with her dad and her brother Oliver, also a trainee commercial pilot".

"She had met someone she loved, she was training to be a commercial pilot and was fulfilling her dreams," he added.

Her mother Louisa said after the inquest that a "small scholarship to encourage other women pilots" to enter the profession, working with the British Women Pilots' Association, had been set up in Miss Pepper's memory.

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