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‘Unlucky’ father-of-two died after stubbing his toe on coral at Florida theme park

A holidaymaker died after stubbing his toe on a piece of coral in Florida.

Father-of-two Keith Clarke, 59, suffered a blood infection after the trivial accident while he was swimming with tropical fish in a water park in Orlando.

He was treated in intensive care in the U.S. before being flown back to Britain. Despite further intensive treatment and having both his legs amputated, he died from blood poisoning.

An inquest heard that Mr Clarke, an insurance clerk from Sale in Greater Manchester, suffered from haemophilia but his condition was under control and he lived a normal life.

Mr Clarke and his wife, Monica, travelled to Florida for a holiday last summer and visited the Discovery Park attraction in Orlando,

the Manchester hearing was told. Mr Clarke swam in a pool made to look like a coral reef, and stubbed one of his toes on rocks implanted with living coral.

Three days later, on June 13, when he was due to fly back to Manchester, Mr Clarke complained of agonising pain in his shoulder and was sick on the way to the airport.

When he arrived at the airport his legs gave way and he collapsed.

Mrs Clarke noticed his shoulder had gone a ‘black, morbid’ colour and his back was ‘awash with purple swirls beneath the skin’.

He was taken to Central Florida Regional Hospital where he was diagnosed with septic shock and organ failure and treated in intensive care.

On July 2 he was flown back to the UK in an air ambulance.

Doctors in Manchester were forced to amputate his legs below the knee, but he died of multiple organ failure caused by Group B streptococcal septicaemia on August 8, just eight weeks after stubbing his toe.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Nigel Meadows said: ‘It does seem the most likely source of the infection. Living coral and the presence of tropical fish in the water is always a risk factor with injury because of bugs.

‘This sort of infection, once it grips hold of an individual, can be difficult to treat. Group B streptococcal septicaemia is something we can all catch. Some might be more vulnerable to it than others.

‘There might be 100 people who hit coral in the pool  –  some people will pick up bugs, some people will be more prone. Certainly Mr Clarke’s haemophilia would not have helped.’

Mr Meadows told Mrs Clarke: ‘This is an unusual set of circumstances made all the more difficult because it starts with a happy family holiday in a safe environment.

‘If ever there someone who could be described as unlucky it would be your husband.’


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