Former Royal Marine chokes to death in a pickled egg swallowing competition after stuffing three in his mouth 

  • Gary Sims, 55, put three eggs in his mouth at the Boar's Head Inn
  • He quickly began to choke at venue in Berkeley, Gloucestershire
  • Paramedics arrived to perform CPR but they could not revive him
  • Landlady Samantha Hall said it was 'just an awful accident'

By Wills Robinson

Tragedy: Former Royal Marine Gary Sims, 55, during a pickled egg competition at his local pub in Berekeley, Gloucestershire

Tragedy: Former Royal Marine Gary Sims, 55, during a pickled egg competition at his local pub in Berekeley, Gloucestershire

A former Royal Marine choked to death after he took part in a pickled egg swallowing competition, it emerged yesterday.

Father-of-two Gary Sims put three eggs in his mouth while playing the game at the Boar's Head Inn in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, as he drank with friends.

The 55-year-old had gone to the bar and ordered six of the eggs - which cost around £1 each.

But he quickly began to choke, prompting friends and staff to attempt the Heimlich manoeuvre, before ringing 999.

Despite their best efforts last Saturday the former marine - known as Joe to his mates - suffered a cardiac arrest and died.

An inquest heard that he choked when trying to perform a party trick in front of friends.

Gloucestershire Coroner's office opened the hearing and said the initial cause of death discovered from a post mortem examination was asphyxia.

Landlady Samantha Hall said: 'He was in here with his friends when it happened.

'It was very busy so staff didn't think anything of it when someone came over and ordered six or so pickled eggs.

'Everyone around here likes pickled eggs that's why we sell them - to us it's just like selling a packet of crisps.

'He wasn't even drunk. It was just an awful accident. I think the next thing anyone knew he had collapsed. It all happened so quickly.

'I think Joe stuffed three in his mouth and that is when it happened.


'The thing was he didn't even struggle or anything, he just collapsed and that was it and his eyes rolled back.

'The ambulance was called and my doorman was trying to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre but it didn't work. Then they were doing CPR.

'The paramedics got him in an ambulance and I was following them to the hospital, he was then pronounced dead on the way.'

Party trick: The father-of-two tried to eat three of the eggs at once during the game at the Boar's Head in in the village

Party trick: The father-of-two tried to eat three of the eggs at once during the game at the Boar's Head in in the village

A woman, who asked not to be named, said she know people had been taking part in the competition to swallow the pickled eggs.

She said: 'It's sad isn't it? Terrible. We were all very shocked. People shouldn't be playing these games, especially if they've been drinking.'

Landlady Samantha said Mr Sims was a regular who always looked out for staff.

She said: 'He was such a lovely and sweet man. What has happened is tragic. The word 'tragic' has never been so fitting as it is now.


Stuffed: Paul Newman with a pickled egg in his mouth in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

Stuffed: Paul Newman with a pickled egg in his mouth in Cool Hand Luke (1967)

It is one of the most renowned yet bizarre scenes in Hollywood history.

When Lucas 'Cool Hand Luke' Johnson is told he can't eat 50 eggs, he rises to the task.

During the 1967 film, which is set in a 1940s American prison, one of the inmates challenges Luke, played by Paul Newman.

He responds and and goes on to put them in his mouth, one by one.

The spectators give him one rule - no throwing up - and he has an hour to completely consume them all.

When questioned why he chose 50, he said: 'It seemed like a nice round number.'

One bystander gives him advice, suggesting: 'If he eats one egg an hour, he has 10 minutes to swallow.'

After finishing the 36th egg, he gingerly stands up and walks away to lean on a wall.

Someone then taps his belly and says: 'Just like a ripe watermelon ready to burst.'

He carries on, with two inmates carrying him on their shoulders, feeding the eggs into his mouth.

As the clock counts down, the group encourage him by saying: 'Only nine more to go.'

For the last few eggs, he lies on a table with his eyes closed as the last of the eggs are shoved into his mouth.

Then as the time runs out, he stops chewing and an inmate checks to see if his mouth his empty.

'He was a regular here and he would look out for everyone. I remember once there was a member of staff who he thought wasn't eating properly so he would bring her in proper home cooked meals.

...'He was such a lovely and sweet man. What has happened is tragic. The word "tragic" has never been so fitting as it is now'

Samantha Hall, pub landlady

'Most of the staff that worked here were female so if they were working alone he'd make sure he stayed until close to keep away any trouble makers.

'What has happened is so unfair. His two daughters are in total shock. He was an ex- marine. For him to go like this is so unfair.

'He was kind, funny, he looked out for everyone.'

She added that staff did everything they could to help Mr Sims.

She said: "If there is anything else they could have done - they would have done it. I just can't believe what has happened, you but on a brave face but deep down I just want to sell up now.

'You expect the odd scuffle but not someone dying on your premises. The girls are trying to come to terms with their loss at the moment. The wake will be held here next week.'

Mr Sims was also as a former employee of the decommissioned Berkeley power station, managed by Magnox.

He was a contractor who had worked on site for around five years.

An obituary posted in a local paper read: 'Gary Sims Formerly of Berkeley, loving Dad to Emma and Joanne, passed away suddenly on 7th June 2014 aged 55.'

A spokesman for South West Ambulance said: 'We received an emergency call at 9.46pm and two rapid response cars and one double crewed ambulance attended the incident where there was one casualty.

'Although he was conscious at the scene, he suffered a cardiac arrest as a result of choking.

'CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) was carried out, but he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.'

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman added their officers were called to the death of a man at the pub at 11.15pm.

He said: 'It is believed that the man choked on a piece of food. The coroner and the man's next of kin have been informed. Police are not treating the man's death as suspicious.'

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

I choked on a pickled egg when I was about 10 or so. Remember it like it was yesterday. I thought I was going to die. Quick thinking dad held me upside down and hit me so hard on the back it flew out and hit the wall. Been so scared of choking ever since. Must have saved my little one twice and my niece once from choking. Stay calm. Act quick. God bless!!!

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My nephew is an ENT consultant who is on call for emergencies. I asked him what emergencies he had to attend and most of them are cases like this.. I didn't realise how dangerous it was to stuff food down your throat in a race. Unfortunately it blocks much of the throat and ability to breath. Heimlich Manoeuvre is not sufficient and a tracheotomy is not always successful, so be warned.

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£1 an egg. Blimey that's steep when we used to play these games they were about 30p each and I'm not that old. God bless this guys family and so sorry to hear about the tragic demise of someone who gave for his country.

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A tragic accident not stupidity: eggs compress so I can imagine why the Heimlich trick may not have worked if one had got stuck, but it's not something that's in the forefront of your mind when you eat them.

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Tragic and very bizarre headline..

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RIP. Proper soldier

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I nearly choked to death on a beetroot once. My mum used it as an excuse to hit me over and over, luckily it came out but it was so scary, gasping for air and not being able to get any. I joke about it now, as it just sounds so silly, but at the time I genuinely thought I was gone. But still love beetroot, I just make sure I chew first.

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People need to stop doing stupid things, not worth it

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Bit like neck nomination why bother!

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I don`t get these competitions. I don`t see the glory of being known as the person who can stuff the most food in their mouth in one go...............

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