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Toddler chokes to death on sausage during holiday with family

A toddler choked to death at a holiday camp as staff “stood around doing nothing”.

James Manning, two, choked on a sausage as he enjoyed his breakfast during a holiday with his family at Butlin’s in Bognor Regis, West Sussex.

But as the toddler fought for his breath and family members battled to save him, Butlin’s staff failed to intervene.




James was rushed to hospital by ambulance where he was placed on life support but he tragically died two weeks later.

An inquest in Crawley, West Sussex was told six members of staff – including some who were trained in first aid – witnessed the incident but not one stepped in to help save the boy.

James’ grandmother, Angela Knight, said: “There was a few staff stood around but there was no Butlins staff that helped with James.”



The hearing was told the toddler had been enjoying a family holiday at Butlin’s with his mother, Natalie, and grandmother Angela, in June 2018.

Natalie Reeves, his mother, said her son was very excited about going to Butlins’s on holiday.

She said: “He was very excited. He loved everything else that going on and was very clever for his age.”

The hearing was told that on the morning of June 6 – two days after their arrival – the family made their way down to the food hall for breakfast and chose a table in the buffet area.

His mother Natalie and grandmother put food on a plate for James to eat and began to cut it up into bite-size pieces.

However James grabbed a piece of sausage from the plate before it had been cut up and swallowed it.

Miss Reeves, from Battle, East Sussex said: “He gasped it down instead of spitting it out. I said: ‘I think he’s choking’ but it didn’t know how big it was.”

As he struggled to get his breath she grabbed her son and rushed towards a member of staff hoping to find someone with first aid training and told her her son was choking before dashing outside the building.




“So as many times before I picked him up and then I passed a member of staff hoping to get someone doing first aid.

“I sat down with James on a bench and I put him over my knees face down, whacking him hard as I could and doing the Heimlich Manoeuvre and it was like he started to fit in my arms. I just picked him up and ran to the entrance and called for help.”

Despite help from fellow holidaymakers James was still not breathing and emergency services were called.

A large man attempted a hard slap on the James’ back before reaching down his throat to remove the sausage to no avail.

The hearing was told women holidaymakers then asked if they could help as they had first aid training and, listening to the 999 operator, they began to perform CPR on the toddler.



James’ grandmother, Mrs Knight, said: “There was a few staff stood around but apart from me and that man and the two women there was no Butlins staff that helped with James.

“There were Butlins staff there but none of them helped. None of the first aiders assisted with James.”

James remained unresponsive and when the ambulance arrived the paramedics took over and he was rushed to hospital. Tragically James died two weeks later on June 20.

The inquest was told the cause of death was hypoxic-ischemic brain injury – or oxygen starvation – along with cardiac arrest following the choking incident.

The hearing was told James had suffered a history of choking on solid food in the past.




In May 2017, the family had to call 999 after the toddler grabbed a piece of KFC popcorn chicken and started choking.

Miss Reeves said they had to administer CPR on the toddler after he turned blue and lost consciousness,

She said paramedics gave him electric shocks to revive him and, although he recovered, he was taken to hospital were he remained overnight for observation.

The hearing was told James suffered from enlarged tonsils and had a predisposition to choke on food.

It was proposed he underwent an operation to remove his adenoids and tonsils to alleviate the problem and assist his swallowing.

However despite being referred to the Ears, Nose and Throat department at the Royal County Sussex Hospital two months earlier Miss Reeves had heard nothing.

Just a fortnight before the incident she called the hospital and begged them to do something for her son.

Breaking down in tears she told the hearing: “If you don’t do something for my son, something is going to happen. I said we were gong on holiday next week.”

Dr Samantha Holden, pathologist, said the post mortem showed inflammation of the tonsils.

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