Parents helplessly watched as son, two, choked to death on sugar snap pea

Austin Hardman (L) and his older brother Noah (Picture: NCJ Media)
Austin Hardman (L) and his older brother Noah (Picture: NCJ Media)

The family of a two-year-old who choked to death on a sugar snap pea have described their anguish at losing their 'beautiful boy'.

Austin Hardman suffocated in front of his helpless parents on November 23 last year while the family was preparing for a pizza night, an inquest heard.

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The toddler was at home in County Durham eating peas with his big brother, Noah, when one became lodged in his airway.

Austin started coughing and his dad, Daniel Hardman, realised his son was choking and started to pat him on the back.

When it didn’t work Mr Hardman, 34, shouted at Austin's mum, Emma Nelson, for help and dialled 999.

Austin Hardman's parents described him as a "beautiful boy" (Picture: NCJ Media)
Austin Hardman's parents described him as a "beautiful boy" (Picture: NCJ Media)

Mr Hardman and a neighbour frantically tried to save the boy’s life and performed CPR until the ambulance arrived, the inquest heard.

When paramedics arrived Austin was going blue and they tried to give him oxygen through a mask.

The inquest heard attempts to remove the food from his airway failed due to its location but eventually it was dislodged slightly, giving room for air.

Austin, who was in cardiac arrest, was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham but doctors were unable to save him.

Speaking after the inquest, his parents paid tribute to the toddler.

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Mr Hardman said: "Our Austin was a beautiful boy and he had a huge heart, the biggest smile I have ever seen and I have never known a giggle like it.

"We look at videos now and you hear it - it still makes you smile. He is missed beyond measure.

"Myself and Emma were just blessed to have such a perfect little boy. It was too short but absolutely blessed to have a beautiful boy as he was."

Austin Hardman tragically died after choking on peas at home (Picture: NCJ Media)
Austin Hardman tragically died after choking on peas at home (Picture: NCJ Media)

The parents urged people to learn CPR so they do not face the same tragedy.

Mr Hardman added: "If someone could do something to prepare themselves for it, if it ever happened to them. I can't stress enough that they should take that opportunity."

Pathologist Doctor Srinivas Annavarapu, who deals exclusively in cases involving children, told the inquest the pea was lodged by the vocal cord and had food around it, blocking the airway.

He said that it would not have been possible for someone to remove the food using their fingers and confirmed paramedics would not have been able to carry out the procedure required to dislodge it.

County Durham and Darlington Coroner James Thompson concluded Austin's death was an accident.

He said: "This has been a difficult case both for myself and staff dealing with it. I can't begin to think what it has been like for yourselves.

"I do hope in some small way, what you heard today gives some sort of understanding of what has happened."

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