A HEARTBROKEN father has urged all parents to learn CPR following the tragic death of his two-year-old son after he choked while eating peas during a family meal at home.

Daniel Hardman, of Haswell, east Durham, was speaking after a coroner ruled his son Austin had died accidentally, having suffered acute asphyxiation caused by the inhalation of food matter, on November 23 last year.

Mr Hardman said: “If anyone can learn CPR, all I can say is do it, because I had never thought in a million years I would ever be in a position where I would have to do what I did.

The Northern Echo: Left, Austin, two, and his brother Noah, fourLeft, Austin, two, and his brother Noah, four

“If people could do something to prepare themselves – God forbid that should ever happen to them – I cannot stress enough that they should take that opportunity.”

Paying tribute to his son, he said: “Our Austin was a beautiful boy. He had a huge heart and the biggest smile I have ever seen.

“I have never known a giggle like it. We watch videos now and hear it and it still makes me smile. He is missed beyond measure."

The Northern Echo: Austin, left and his brother Noah, fourAustin, left and his brother Noah, four

He added: “Myself and Emma were just blessed to have such a perfect little boy. It is too short, but we were absolutely blessed buy a little boy as beautiful as he was. I just hope that nobody else ever has to go through this again."

Coroner James Thompson, who praised ambulance staff and doctors who had tried to save Austin's life, was told Austin had been enjoying a family meal with his mother Emma and four-year-old brother Noah when the tragedy unfolded.

He said: "Part of the meal contained sugar snap peas. By tragic occurrence this has lodged ultimately in Austin's vocal chord and caused his airway to be obstructed.

"Despite the sustained and best efforts of his father the ambulance service and indeed neighbours it could not initially be dislodged.

The Northern Echo: Austin HardmanAustin Hardman

"He was conveyed to University Hospital of North Durham. By then the the obstruction had been partially dislodged and some air flow was possible.

"Again sustained and determined efforts efforts by the resuscitation team to save his life were unsuccessful.

"A subsequent post-mortem examination revealed an impacted yellow green pea in the vocal chords which along with other food debris on the balance of probability I find caused the blockage."

In a statement read to hearing, Mr Hardman said the family had planned to have a movie night with pizza and popcorn, as they always did on Fridays.

He said: “We had a pizza delivered. Noah was going through a fussy phase and didn't want to eat any pizza, so I gave him some sugar snap pea pods. Austin had a really good appetite and he didn’t want to be left out, so I gave him some too.

"Austin started coughing I thought he had put too much in his mouth and patted him to see if it would help. I was actually going to tell him off for being greedy."

The father-of-two said he patted him on the back repeatedly but realising it was having no effect and he called 999. He took instruction from an operator while he waited for medics to arrive and at one point a neighbour helped with CPR.

On the way to hospital a paramedic noticed something yellow lodged in Austin's throat and was unable to dislodge it, but cleared the airway to allow oxygen to flow.

When he arrived at hospital doctors found there were no signs of life but continued to attempt to resuscitate him – stopping after 20 minutes.

The inquest was told the ambulance had arrived after 20 minutes, having been delayed by four minutes after missing a turning.

Mr Thompson said: “It is always a matter of deepest regret when immediate medical assistant is not at hand when something like this happens."

But he added pathologist had given clear evidence that within two to three minutes of the blockage, Austin’s condition would have been deteriorating and that probably began before the call was received by the ambulance service.

He said: "When you consider had the ambulance arrived within the 15 minutes stipulated by national guidelines, Austin would have already seriously unwell.

"I find therefore that the additional four minutes probably didn't alter the outcome."

Mr Thompson said: "Austin's death is indeed a tragedy and hearing the evidence today one cannot fail to be moved.

"All I can say is to give you my condolences and sorrow for you loss.

"This has been a difficult case for both myself and my staff to deal with I cannot even begin to imagine what it's been like for yourselves. I do hope that in some small way what has happened today at the inquest has given you some understanding what happened to Austin."