A woman with locked-in syndrome died at a holiday park after choking on a marshmallow, an inquest has heard.

Mia Louise Austin, 30, was attempting to copy a challenge she had seen on reality show Love Island when she died.

She had watched the ITV series last summer when contestants had tried to see how many marshmallows they could fit into their mouths.

Ten years ago, Mia suffered a stoke that left her unable to move or speak and instead she communicated using a computer tracking her eye movements.

Mia, from Lower Heswall, Wirral, Merseyside, died at The Warren holiday park in Abersoch, Gwynedd, in June, the inquest was told.

Before her death she had indicated to her mother Carol Ann Austin and a carer that she wanted to buy a packet of marshmallows.

Carol told the inquest: ‘Apparently on Love Island they did a marshmallow challenge, you put marshmallows in the mouth. That’s what she wanted to do with two friends.’



Mia returned to her accommodation with her carer, who then put a marshmallow in her mouth.

She had shaken her head to say ‘no’ when the carer had suggested it needed cutting.

But she began choking and panicked, the coroner heard. Mia lost consciousness and despite the efforts of paramedics and park staff, she died at the scene.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones said the result of her stroke meant Mia did not have the ability to cough up the marshmallow, which had blocked her airway and caused her to suffocate.

Her mother told the inquest Mia had been crowned Merseyside ‘woman of the year’ for her work to raise money for charity.

She won the award posthumously just days after her death.

Carol said her daughter was ‘perfectly well and healthy’ before she had a stroke that left her paralysed in November 2009.

Mia had inspired thousands with her story, defying the odds to travel the world and write a book using just her eyes, called In the Blink of an Eye.

Speaking before her death, Carol described Mia as ‘beautiful, bubbly and lively’.

She said: ‘She was a party animal before her incident but she doesn’t let it stop her doing anything now, either – she doesn’t class herself as disabled.’