Saturday, January 31, 2009

Seizures caused by motorcycle crash cost man's life

A MAN given a unique send-off by his family after he died suddenly had suffered an epileptic fit, an inquest was told.

Twenty-one-year-old Lee John was found dead on the floor of his family home one morning last June.

His devastated parents Mervyn and Carol decided to give their young son the send-off they said he would have wanted, laying him out in his coffin with a can of cider in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

His family also sent flowers to the funeral in the shape of a Harley Davidson motorcycle, and a bouquet in the shape of the can that held his favourite cider drink.

Mr and Mrs John, and other members of the family, attended an inquest at County Hall into the death of the former Daniel James school pupil, of Heol Pen Tir Garw, Penlan, who was known to friends as Lanky Lee.

The hearing was told Mr John had been involved in two road accidents, the second of which took place on Gors Avenue seven months before his death.

After that accident, he began experiencing fits for the first time, leading him to be prescribed drugs to control the convulsions.

But as a result of his fits, DVLA had taken away his driving licence.

Mr John senior had spoken of his belief that his son had stopped taking his tablets because he was determined to prove he was fully fit to drive, so he could indulge his passion for motorbikes.

Singleton Hospital consultant pathologist Maurizio Brotto, who carried out the post mortem examination on Mr John, confirmed there was a low level of the anti- convulsive drug Lamotrigine in his body, suggesting "partial or non- compliance" with the medication.

He suggested that Mr John, who last worked at Swansea's Ramada Jarvis hotel as a kitchen porter, may have stopped taking it in the days before his death.

He also confirmed he found no evidence of alcohol or illegal drug use.

But he said he believed Mr John had experienced a fit shortly before he died, and gave the cause of death as Sudep, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

He added it was likely Mr John had experienced cardiac arrhythmia as a result, and told Mr John's parents it would have been "very difficult" to treat him, even if he had been in hospital.

He concluded it was unlikely he would have suffered.

Coroner Phillip Rogers said: "Lee John had been involved in road traffic collisions in 2004 and 2007.

"He had contusions in the brain which might have been a result of the collisions, or possibly from the seizures themselves.

"There were abrasions on the tongue, which are indicative of seizure before he died.

"In these circumstances, the only conclusion is that he died of natural causes."

Mr John's family were too upset to comment after the inquest.


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