Teen Dies After Consuming Poisonous Yew Tree Berries and Leaves During UK Park Outing with Father.
A 14-year-old boy named Benn Curran-Nicholls lost his life after unknowingly consuming poisonous yew tree berries during a routine morning walk with his father in a local park. The teenager, who suffered from severe autism with intellectual impairment, frequently visited the park for exercise.
On September 18, 2022, Benn and his father took their regular stroll through the park. Benn, drawn to a yew tree he often climbed, ingested berries and leaves, unaware of their toxicity. Later that day, at 6 pm, he fell seriously ill and collapsed. Emergency services rushed him to the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, where he tragically passed away in the early hours of September 19, 2022.
A toxicology report revealed that Benn succumbed to “refractory cardiogenic shock due to taxane alkaloid poisoning” from the ingested yew tree parts. While yew tree poisonings are rare, the report noted a “number of cases.”
Expressing concerns, Assistant Coroner Andrew Bridgman questioned the authorities’ decision not to issue a public alert regarding the dangers of yew trees. Despite discussions between the council and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), an alert was not issued due to fears that it might lead to unintended consequences, such as potential self-harm.
The coroner criticized this decision as “illogical” and highlighted the importance of educating the public about the risks associated with yew trees. He emphasized that the decision lacked consideration for the potential danger to young children who might be attracted to the berries without recognizing the associated risks.
Concluding the report, Mr. Bridgman called for a re-evaluation of the decision and recommended disseminating information to the public to prevent similar tragedies. Both the Manchester City Council and UKHSA expressed condolences to the family, acknowledging the seriousness of the case and committing to respond to the coroner’s recommendations appropriately.