Mia Austin: ‘Woman of the year’ died choking on marshmallow

Mia Austin
Mia Austin lost her power of speech and movement after a stroke in 2009

A woman with locked-in syndrome died at a holiday park after choking on a marshmallow, an inquest has concluded.

Mia Austin, 30, from Lower Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside, died at The Warren in Abersoch, Gwynedd, in June.

The inquest in Caernarfon heard Ms Austin had lost her power of speech and movement after a stroke 10 years ago and was unable to cough up the sweet.

Coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Ms Austin’s mother Carol told the inquest Mia had noticed some large marshmallows during a lunchtime visit to a shop.

Love Island

“Apparently on Love Island they did a marshmallow challenge, you put marshmallows in the mouth. That’s what she wanted to do with two friends,” she said.

Ms Austin returned to her accommodation with her carer, who then put a marshmallow in her mouth.

She had shaken her head to say “no” when the carer had suggested it needed cutting.

She began choking and panicked. She lost consciousness and paramedics attended the scene.

Ms Austin’s mother told the inquest her daughter was Merseyside “woman of the year” and won the award posthumously the day after the tragedy.

She also described her daughter as “perfectly well and healthy” before having the stroke at home in November 2009, and since communicated through a spell chart and a computer.

The coroner said the result of the stroke meant Ms Austin did not have the ability to cough up the marshmallow, which had blocked her airway and caused her to suffocate.

‘An inspirational young woman’

Speaking after the inquest, organisers of the Merseyside Women of the Year awards said: “Mia was a truly inspirational young woman and an extremely popular and deserving winner of two Merseyside Women of the Year awards, Inspirational Woman and overall Woman of the Year.

“Her legacy will live on in the fantastic work that she did and the lives that she touched.”

Ms Austin also wrote a book, called In the Blink of an Eye, which was published in 2018 and describes short snippets of her memories after her stroke and documents her journey from hospital to returning home.

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