UK - Timothy Jarvis, 18, was in the first week of his maths degree when he downed an entire bottle of rum in 15 minutes for a bet. The former grammar school boy then suffered fatal head injuries after tumbling down a flight of stairs at his university’s hall of residence.
Despite being taken to hospital, it was 90 minutes before he was assessed by a doctor. He died the next day.
Mr Jarvis, from Orpington, Kent, won a place at Essex University last year after achieving four good A levels at St Olave’s Grammar School.
Fellow student says: ‘Tim was drinking a bottle of rum and my friend had a stopwatch going. It was just a game. He had a bet that he could drink a bottle of rum in 30 minutes. He did it. He drunk it in 15 minutes, actually.’
A friend said he helped Mr Jarvis downstairs and out of the hall of residence, where he was sick, before he tried to help him up to bed in his room. However, when Mr Jarvis didn't follow, a tumbling or falling sound was heard.
The friend found Mr Jarvis unconscious at the bottom of the stairs with a large swelling near his eye.
When paramedics arrived and found Mr Jarvis unconscious, they made a ‘red alert’ call to Colchester Hospital to warn them to expect a serious case. But when they arrived at 12.35am, there was no trauma team to meet them, Mr Jarvis was left on a trolley in a corridor and was not assessed by a doctor for nearly 90 minutes.
NHS guidelines say every patient should be examined by a nurse within 15 minutes and by a doctor within an hour.
Eventually at 2am, a junior doctor noticed the teenager was ‘very unwell’. CT scans revealed severe bleeding on the brain and he was transferred to the neurosurgery department at Queen’s Hospital, Romford, where he underwent emergency surgery at 5am.
He died the next day.Although the coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, he was highly critical of the hospital.
‘A public authority needs to have systems in place to prevent such a death, any death,’ he said. ‘The word tragedy is used a lot but I can’t think of a more appropriate word in this case – it was a true tragedy.’
Verdict: accidental death.