LONDON - A teenager said he didn’t know allergies could be fatal during an inquest into the 2017 death of a 13-year-old boy who went into anaphylactic shock after having a piece of cheese flung at him.
Karanbir Singh Cheema, who went by Karan, suffered the severe allergic reaction after he was hit in the neck by a piece of cheese his classmate threw at him on June 28, 2017, at a school in Greenford, West London.
He suffered from allergies to all dairy products, wheat, gluten, eggs and nuts, according to the Telegraph. He also had asthma and atopic eczema.
During a judicial inquiry on Wednesday, one of the two boys that were involved in the incident said he knew Karan was allergic to bread but had no idea about his dairy allergy. The now 15-year-old boy said he hit Karan with the cheese because it was typical “immature behavior,” according to the BBC.
“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,” the teen said, according to the Telegraph article.
When Karan was hit by the cheese, his reaction was immediate, sending him into anaphylactic shock. School staff gave him an antihistamine, EpiPen and his inhaler, but he had stopped breathing by the time paramedics arrived. The paramedics said he was covered in hives.
The Telegraph reports that Karan was taken a hospital for treatment and died 10 days later.
“I didn’t mean any harm. I’m sorry, I’m sorry for what I did,” the teenager said during the inquest.
The other boy, who had handed his friend the cheese, said he knew Karan had a dairy allergy but did not know cheese was a dairy product.
“At the time, I didn’t know dairy was cheese. Milk and yogurt, I would say that was dairy. I knew he was allergic to some things, dairy and pollen,” he said, according to the Telegraph. “I knew he probably had more (allergies), but I was only informed of the other ones.”
Karan’s mother, Rina Cheema, said when she arrived at a hospital that she was told it was unlikely skin contact with food could cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock.
A person who worked at the school, Rajvnder Sianai, said an Epipen kept at the school had expired in July 2016. Karan's mother was informed about that in February 2017, according to the BBC.
The hearing is expected to last three days.
This story was reported from Los Angeles.