Burnley couple died from carbon monoxide poisoning after Egyptian hotel sprayed for bedbugs

John and Susan Cooper died while on holiday in Egypt with their family in 2018. Credit: Family picture

A couple who fell ill in a hotel while on holiday in Egypt died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the room next door was sprayed with a pesticide to kill bed bugs, a coroner has ruled.

John and Susan Cooper died suddenly while away with their daughter and grandchildren at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada in August 2018.

A two-day inquest into their deaths heard the hotel room they were staying in had been next door to a room fumigated with chemicals to kill bed bugs just hours before.

Their daughter, Kelly Ormerod, who had been staying with them, said a strange smell had been present in the room "like acetone, like someone had painted their nails".

The couple, from Burnley, had travelled to Egypt on 13 August 2018 and had been well until suddenly falling ill in the early hours of 21 August.

A statement from a German tourist read at the inquest said he had reported a bed bug infestation in the room next door to the Coopers.

It was then treated with the pesticide, referred to as Lambda, at lunchtime on 20 August.

The front door of the room had been sealed off with masking tape, but the adjoining door that led to Mr and Mrs Coopers room was not, the inquest was told.

After her parents failed to show up for breakfast, Ms Ormerod, said she went to see them as they had reported a strange smell in their room and were very ill.

Ms Ormerod told the hearing: "He [Mr Cooper] just literally slumped and sat on the corner of the bed and said: 'I'm really not well'."

She also said that her mother was in bed "groaning", with vomit in her hair and around the room, where she noticed a strange "heavy" smell.

The Coopers were on holiday with their daughter Kelly Ormerod. Credit: Family pic

After sounding the alarm, Ms Ormerod told the inquest, two doctors were summoned, but they were in “panic mode” as her parents further deteriorated and her father struggled to breathe.

CPR was attempted but Mr Cooper was declared dead on the hotel room floor and his wife was taken to a clinic at the hotel where she became “super agitated” and delirious, the inquest heard.

Mrs Cooper was taken to hospital by ambulance but declared dead at 4.12pm.

The inquest had previously heard how the Cooper's granddaughter Molly, who was 12 at the time, had been staying in her grandparents room.

Molly told the inquest the air conditioning was broken for the first four or five days when they got to the hotel and when it turned on, there was a strange smell. She said her grandmother had sprayed perfume to mask the smell.

Professor Robert Chilcott told the hearing he detected the presence of carbon monoxide in blood samples from the bodies of the couple.

Home Office pathologist Dr Charles Wilson gave a cause of death for Mr Cooper as carbon monoxide toxicity and heart disease and for Mrs Cooper, carbon monoxide toxicity.

John and Susan Cooper died whilst on a Thomas Cook holiday in Egypt

Recording a narrative conclusion Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen Coroner Dr James Adeley said the couples' deaths, "were caused by the spraying of a pesticide containing dichloromethane in an adjoining room and inhaling the vapour resulting in their deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Jatinder Paul, from solicitors Irwin Mitchell, supporting Ms Ormerod, said: “Losing John and Susan in such sudden and tragic circumstances continues to have a profound effect on the family, including Kelly.

“What’s made their grief all the harder has been having so many unanswered questions regarding their deaths.

“To find out that the couple died from a pesticide that had been sprayed in an adjoining room, leading to carbon monoxide poisoning, is shocking and deeply concerning.

“It’s now vital that lessons are learned to ensure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen to future holidaymakers.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...