THE family of a youth worker who died mysteriously at his home want to raise awareness of a rare unexpected death syndrome.
Daniel Curtis, 24, was found dead in a bath at his Southampton flat with the front door unlocked and the power out. His body was believed to have been lain undiscovered for days.
But an inquest at Southampton Coroner’s Court heard police could find no evidence that anything was missing, that the flat had been entered or searched, or that Daniel had been deliberately harmed.
“Investigations ruled out foul play and ruled out suicide,” detective sergeant Will Wales told the court.
After tests revealed no sign of drink, drugs or carbon monoxide poisoning, pathologist Brian Green put Daniel’s death down to sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP).
The rare occurrence is attributed to around 500 deaths in the UK each year where a person with epilepsy dies suddenly and no other cause of death is revealed.
Risk factors are thought to included alcohol, failing to take prescribed medication, and unwitnessed and unrecorded seizures.
The court heard how Daniel had stopped regularly taking his medicine for epilepsy, preferring homeopathic remedies.
His mother, Liz, 43, said: “We want to raise awareness among people suffering from epilepsy that they need to take good care of themselves and to keep your medicine going.
“Daniel didn’t like taking his pills.”
She added: “He was a private person but he was an absolutely wonderful son. I really miss him.”
His family are now joining calls for the Government to increase research and information on SUDEP.
Daniel’s stepdad Marc Kibler, 42, said: “It’s very important that anybody with epilepsy, or their relatives should know about this condition.
“If people knowing about it can save one life Daniel’s passing will not have been a loss.”
Unemployed Daniel was involved with the Breakout Youth Project for Southampton teens who are gay or unsure of their sexuality.
Project manager Mary Lukins said: “Danny was a really gentle young man, kind and considerate, always calm and quiet. He was never any trouble and it was in his nature to be a peacemaker. Danny always volunteered and got involved wherever he could, including helping out with other projects. It was a genuine privilege to know him.”
Daniel was also a young volunteer for No Limits, a youth support group. Caryl James, manager of the No Limits drop in centre in Shirley Road, said he helped run activities, staff events and represent the organisation.
“He gave a lot of his time and was really helpful. He is very sadly missed,” she said. Recording a verdict of death by natural causes coroner Keith Wiseman said: “The worst that anybody could say about Daniel was he was a private person.”
For more information on the SUDEP, contact sudep.org.