Urgent warning issued as boy, 14, dies from eating poisonous berries in UK park

Urgent warnings have been issued after a 14-year-old lad tragically died after munching on berries during a family stroll in a UK park.

Benn Curran-Nicholls, who had severe autism, was poisoned after eating leaves and berries from a yew tree in Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury, Greater Manchester.

After coming back from a walk with his dad, Benn "slumped" at his home in Didsbury, and his eyes "started to roll around his head," the Manchester Evening News reports. Despite several hours of medical attention at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, the young lad sadly passed away.

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A post mortem found that Benn suffered "refractory cardiogenic shock". Coroner Andrew Bridgman has now issued a report about the dangers of eating yew tree berries. He also criticised the "illogical" decision to not issue a public health warning following Benn's death in 2022.

Mr Bridgman wrote: "Benn Curran-Nicholls moved to Didsbury with his family from Australia in June 2022. Benn suffered severe autism with intellectual impairment, and daily walks in the local parks became a part of his daily routine. On the morning of September 18, 2022 Benn and his father went for a walk in Fletcher Moss Park where, among other things, there was a yew tree that Benn liked to climb. Benn ate some yew tree berries and also some of the leaves.

"Benn's dad didn't know that yew tree berries/leaves were poisonous, so he didn't do anything. Even the Neighbourhood Manager for Environmental Health at Manchester City Council didn't know that yew trees were poisonous.

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"Later that day, around 6pm, Benn suddenly collapsed. He was rushed to Royal Manchester Children's Hospital by an emergency ambulance where he sadly passed away in the early hours of September 19, 2022. The toxicology report showed that yew tree poisoning in humans is rare, but there have been a few cases."

After Benn's tragic passing, the council and UK Health Security Agency had a chat about letting the public know about the dangers of yew trees.

The coroner, who recorded the cause of death as "yew tree poisoning", said the decision not to issue a warning was "illogical" in his prevention of future deaths report, and added that "the decision not to put out public health messages, either specific to the yew tree or in more general terms, was not properly and fully thought through. It should be re-visited."

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