Trainee pilot Oriana Pepper poses for a photograph.
A 21-year-old trainee pilot from the UK died after being bitten by a mosquito on her forehead, according to an inquest hearing.
Oriana Pepper from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk had developed an infection that spread to her brain.
Pepper was well on her way to becoming a commercial airline pilot and had passed her theory exams on the EasyJet programme in Oxford. She had travelled to Belgium for her instrument ratings.
In Antwerp, the inquest heard, Pepper was bitten by a mosquito on her forehead. She was hospitalised on 7 July last year when the infection spread.
Doctors prescribed antibiotics which did not help.
Two days later, she collapsed in front of her boyfriend James Hall who had to rush her again to the hospital.
Pepper died there on 21 July last year.
Suffolk’s senior coroner Nigel Parsley on Wednesday said the trainee pilot died “as a result of a serious infection caused by an insect bite to the forehead”.
Mr Parsley said: “An infection has entered Oriana’s skin following a bite by an insect. It’s then gone into the carotid artery of the neck and led to septic emboli in her brain.”
“I’ve never seen a case like this before,” the coroner said.
“It’s just one of those things that’s just such an unfortunate tragedy for a young lady who clearly had a wonderful career and life ahead of her.”
Pepper’s parents Tristan and Louisa Pepper attended the inquest and later issued a statement in which they said their daughter “loved nothing better than to go flying with her dad and her brother Oliver, also a trainee commercial pilot”.
He said his daughter used to describe flying as “having an office in the sky amongst the clouds”.
“She had met someone she loved, she was training to be a commercial pilot and was fulfilling her dreams.”
The trainee pilot’s mother said after the inquest that, in memory of Pepper, the family had “set up a small scholarship to encourage other women pilots’ to enter the profession, working with the British Women Pilots’ Association”.
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