Reports have emerged from London this week of the tragic death of a school boy who was killed after suffering an allergic reaction to a piece of cheese thrown at him by a classmate. 13-year-old Karanbir Singh Cheema, from Greenford in West London, was struck on the neck by the slice which, coroners say, caused him to go into severe anaphylactic shock. Despite the best efforts of staff and medical personnel, Cheema - known as Karan to his friends - died shortly after.
The incident, which took place back in 2017, has returned to the spotlight after an inquest was held this week to determine exactly what had taken place. It was during this hearing that officials were able to hear the perpetrators perspective on how Karan had lost his life. Speaking to the court from behind a screen so as to protect their identity, two boys, now aged 15, revealed previously unknown details about the tragedy.
According to the testimony of the individual directly responsible, he “didn't know it would kill him" before throwing the cheese. According to a report in the Telegraph, the boy “knew Karan was allergic to bread but was unaware of his dairy allergy.” As it transpired, not only was the 13-year-old was severely allergic to wheat and gluten, but also all dairy products, eggs and nuts, as well as being asthmatic and suffering from atopic eczema.
Speaking at Poplar Coroners' Court, the inadvertent perpetrator revealed how he had "flicked" the cheese at Karan from about a foot away, before stressing again that he “didn’t know he was allergic,” adding, "I thought maybe he would get a fever or a rash and miss school for a while... I didn't know it could lead to death." When quizzed as to why he had decided to flick the cheese in the first place, he replied that it was “usual behaviour in year eight”.
A second boy, who it is believed handed his friend the cheese to throw at Karan was also asked to testify. He alleged that, although he knew Karan had a dairy allergy, he was not aware that cheese constitutes a dairy product, stating to officials, "At the time I didn't know dairy was cheese - milk and yoghurt, I would say that was dairy. I knew he was allergic to some things, dairy and pollen. I knew he probably had more (allergies), but I was only informed of the other ones." He concluded by adding "I just want to say that I didn't mean any harm - I'm sorry, I'm sorry for what I did."
Karan, who had attended William Perkin Church of England High School, was described as "so bright he could have been anything he wanted." Although he had been treated almost immediately with two spoons of piriton, an EpiPen and an inhaler, the reaction was so severe that medical staff were unable to help him. He died 10 days after the initial incident, surrounded by his family, in Great Ormond Street Hospital. The inquest, which was set to run for three days, is scheduled to be concluded today.