‘Much loved’ man tragically dies choking on steak while eating with twin brother

An artist has tragically died after choking on a piece of steak at a restaurant, just months before surviving a similar incident.

Mark Fairweather, 41, had been enjoying a meal with his twin brother at a Brewers Faye restaurant in Devon.

The siblings had gone to have dinner at the Inn on the Quay in Paignton after visiting waterpark Splashdown Quaywest when the traumatic ordeal occurred.

On July 20 2020, Mr Fairweather, of Brixham, began to struggle swallowing his food during the dinner and went to look for water as their drinks had not yet arrived.

However, he was sick and went to the toilet with a restaurant employee who had been on drinks duty, reports Devon Live.

Mark, who was known to suffer from swallowing difficulties following throat surgery after he was born, was taken outside and sat on a bench with the employee while they waited for an ambulance to arrive.

While continuing to try and drink more water, his condition worsened and he collapsed and began to lose consciousness.

Passersby, along with the manager of the Premier Inn, helped the employee perform first aid under the instruction of a 999 call handler.

An air ambulance arrived within five minutes, but sadly Mark was unable to be revived.

The cause of his death was cardio respiratory arrest, and laryngeal obstruction by food and vomit. It was noted he also had ischemic heart disease.

The inquest heard that Mark, who lived with his parents, had a degree and was a sequential illustrator who produced graphic novels and children’s books, and also had a talent for still life artwork.

At birth, Mark was born with only one kidney, and the day after he was born he underwent a throat operation which left him with swallowing problems.

His twin brother Andrew said in a statement how they had been having a meal at the Inn on the Quay at around 4pm to 5pm.

He recalled: “Mark was eating a steak and he was eating it rather quickly so I asked him to slow down. He has issues swallowing due to a medical condition.”

When Mark began to choke on a piece of steak, Andrew told how Mark went to the bar and he then went to look for him after he had not returned for what he believed was 20 minutes.

He said: “At first I could not see him and then I found him near the entrance struggling to breathe.”

The restaurant employee who came to Mark’s aid said in a statement that the time from when Mark first spoke to him to ask for a drink to the time he took him outside was five to 10 minutes.

Mark’s medical history revealed he had suffered previous choking episodes, the last being three months earlier when he had choked on a piece of chicken while eating dinner with his family at home.

An ambulance was called and by the time it had arrived he was recovering from the incident. It was heard how dealt with such episodes by drinking water to wash the food down.

Mark’s father Dr Nigel, a retired GP, told the inquest it was a shame that drinks had not been delivered to the table by the time he started eating, and that steak knives would be beneficial at tables to make it easier to cut up steaks.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Stephen Covell said: “Mark suffered cardiac arrest after having choked on food and vomit. This was unexpected, unanticipated and an unforeseen event, and certainly was unintended.”

Paying tribute to Mark after his inquest, his parents said: “He was much-loved by his parents, his twin brother Andy and his sister who lives in Australia.

“He was primarily an artist and spent most of his time painting and drawing during the pandemic.

“He went to university as a mature student at the School of Creative Arts at Wrexham Glyndwr University, and studied sequential illustration, combined with children’s books. He won a prize for an illustration of Hey, Diddle Diddle.

“Mark was very childlike, in a sweet sort of way. He was a very peace loving person, and had a dry sense of humour.”

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