Staff, customers, paramedics and the parents of little Jacob tried desperately to save him after he choked on a grape in a Pizza Hut, an inquest has heard.
Jacob Jenkins had asked his parents to take him for a pizza in Hartlepool and was snacking on fruit from the salad bar when a grape got stuck.
After frantic attempts were made to dislodge the grape, he was taken to hospital in Middlesbrough and then transferred to the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle, where he died in October.
Newcastle Coroner Karen Dilks concluded that his death was accidental.
Jacob’s father David Jenkins said in a statement to the inquest that the family had gone for tea to Pizza Hut at Jacob’s request.
After ordering they went to the salad bar and got him a bowl of apple and grapes, and when he finished he started on a second bowl containing just grapes.
Within a few moments he started to choke, his father said. Mr Jenkins slapped his son on the back and the boy’s mother Abigail shouted for help.
Pizza Hut manager Emily Vaughan said in a statement to the hearing she saw the boy in his father’s arms and realised something was wrong.
The coroner, reading the statement, said: “Jacob’s father passed him to her. He was pale, he was blue, his eyes were shut, his mother was crying.”
The manager used her first aid training and slapped the toddler on the back, telling his mother to ring 999.
Ms Vaughan tried the Heimlich manoeuvre as he gasped for air.
A male customer then came to help and put Jacob over her knee while Mr Jenkins tried to get help from elsewhere.
A female customer tried to perform CPR, the manager said, and an area manager who was visiting relayed directions from the emergency services operator over the phone.
Mr Jenkins brought a security guard and a cinema manager to help and the boss took over, continuing to do what the others had tried, the inquest heard.
Paramedics arrived and continued the steps the others had taken before Jacob was taken into the ambulance and driven to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough.
Paramedic Paul Newness said in a statement that the grape was removed using a laryngoscopy and forceps.
Grace Williamson, a consultant paediatric intensivist at the Great Northern Children’s Hospital, Newcastle, treated Jacob.
She told the hearing young children are more susceptible to choking than adults, as they have smaller airwaves and are less co-ordinated in eating.
Grapes are difficult to dislodge because they are “malleable” and fit tightly in the airway, the consultant said. She said hot dog-type sausages are known to do this, but this was the first time in her experience of a grape choking incident.
Pizza Hut removed grapes from their salad bars “as a mark of respect”, the chain said.
Outside the hearing, Maria Watkins, from Pizza Hut, said: “On behalf of Pizza Hut restaurants, particularly those team members from the Hartlepool Hut, I would like to convey the deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Jacob Jenkins.
“Our thoughts continue to be with them during this difficult time.”