Brit dad died after ‘stubbing toe’ then ‘turning purple’ at Seaworld resort

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A Brit dad died after stubbing his toe on a piece of living coral in an "unlucky" holiday tragedy at a Seaworld-owned resort.

Keith Clarke had been enjoying a family holiday back in 2009 at Discovery Cove water park in Orlando, Florida, swimming with tropical fish in a pool when he caught his toe on the coral, causing a blood infection.

The dad-of-two from Sale, Greater Manchester, became so ill after the visit to Discovery Cove that doctors had to amputate his legs when he returned to Manchester.

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But even this drastic step wasn't enough to save the man's life and he died days later.

Clarke was diagnosed with haemophilia at the age of two, a disease that causes sufferers to bleed for longer than usual when cut and that "complicated" his blood poisoning, according to an inquest held in Manchester.

Coroner Nigel Meadows, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, told Mr Clarke's widow, Monica, that her husband had been "essentially unlucky".

An inquest into the death heard Clarke's toe went purple after he stubbed it on rocks implanted with living coral.

When he was due to fly back to Manchester three days later, Clarke said he had agonising pain in his shoulder and was sick on the way to the airport.

When he arrived at the airport he collapsed, and when his nose and lips turned a "white, waxy colour" he was removed from the plane and taken to hospital in Florida, where he was diagnosed with septic shock and organ failure and admitted to intensive care.

His wife noticed his shoulder had gone a "black, morbid" colour and his back had "purple swirls beneath the skin."

Clarke was soon flown back to the UK by air ambulance, where doctors at Wythenshawe Hospital had to amputate his legs below the knee.

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He was then transferred to Manchester Royal Infirmary where he ultimately died of multiple organ failure caused by Group B streptococcal septicaemia eight weeks after stubbing his toe.

Meadows said Clarke had become ill at the Seaworld-owned Discovery Cove by "sheer coincidence" and said it was likely "regular" for people to cut themselves on coral.

He 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 in fact be difficult to treat.

"Group B streptococcal septicaemia is something we can all catch. Some people 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."

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  • Family
  • SeaWorld
  • Injuries

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