British couple died of carbon monoxide poisoning to kill bedbugs while on holiday in Egypt, coroner rules
John Cooper and his wife Susan died of carbon monoxide poisoning
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A British couple who became suddenly ill in their hotel room at a resort in Egypt five years ago died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the room adjacent to theirs was sprayed with pesticide to kill bed bugs, a coroner has ruled.
An inquest into their deaths taking place at Preston Coroner’s Court, Lancashire heard that couple John Cooper, 69 and his wife, Susan, 63, were on a holiday while staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
Kelly Ormerod, the Coopers’ daughter, who described her parents as fit and healthy for their age, had been on holiday with them, their three grandchildren and family friends. But around lunchtime on the eighth day into their holiday, the room next door to the Coopers, which had an adjoining door which was kept locked, was fumigated with pesticide, known as Lambda, for a bed bug infestation.
The pesticide was mixed with dichloromethane, a chemical producing carbon monoxide, and the room was sealed with masking tape around the door, as revealed in the inquest.
The couple returned to their room next door for the night hours later. Their granddaughter, Molly, 12, who was staying on a single bed in the couple’s room, began to feel ill and she was escorted to her mother’s room, Ms Ormerod by Mr Cooper in the early hours.
The following morning Ms Ormerod went knocking after her parents failed to come down to breakfast. She found both her father, a builder, and mother, a cashier in a Thomas Cook bureau de change, seriously ill. Her father was declared dead in the room and her mother hours later in hospital.
Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire sitting at Preston Coroner’s Court, ruled that the deaths on August 21 2018 were caused by the spraying of the pesticide containing the chemical, dichloromethane, in the adjoining room and the couple then inhaling the vapour resulting in their deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning.
He said the spraying had created sufficient vapour to pass under the adjoining door and poison the couple.
In earlier proceedings, toxicology expert Professor Robert Chilcott, during the three-day inquest, stated that in less developed nations, the pesticide Lambda is occasionally mixed with dichloromethane, a substance that induces the body to metabolise or ingest carbon monoxide.
Additionally, Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson told the inquest that the hotel room occupied by the Coopers had not been secured, and he deemed it "inconceivable" that such precautions would not be taken in the case of a double death in a UK hotel.
The inquest, held five years after the deaths, also highlighted multiple and repeated efforts to obtain additional documents and information from Egyptian authorities, despite numerous requests from the Foreign Office.
Coroner Dr Adeley noted the rapid onset of Mr Cooper's illness and death. However, he criticised the medical treatment provided to Mrs Cooper as "utterly insufficient" when she was taken to a clinic in the hotel before an ambulance was called, resulting in a four-hour delay before reaching the hospital.