‘Great’ young footballer, 16, found dead in bed by sister after cardiac arrest

A fit and healthy young footballer died suddenly in his sleep at the age of just 16 in what was believed to be a case of sudden adult death syndrome.

Jake Pickford's sister found her "amazing" 16-year-old brother dead in his bed having suffered a cardiac arrest after she thought he was lying in late having stayed up playing on his Xbox.

Jake, described as "a great lad and a great player", had no previous serious medical issues nor any heart abnormalities, reports Wales Online.

Pathologist Dr Andrew Bamber said it was likely Jake had died from sudden arrhythmic death syndrome – 'SADS' – which is sometimes called sudden adult death syndrome.

SADS is a cardiac arrest brought on by a disturbance in the heart's natural rhythm even though the person has no heart disease. Often people have no symptoms.

Coroner for Gwent, Caroline Saunders, said: "Jake was a healthy 16-year-old who died unexpectedly and without warning on August 15, 2018.

"It appears there was a disturbance in the rhythm of Jake's heartbeat and on balance the medical cause of death can be given as 1a. sudden arrhythmic death syndrome."

Ms Saunders recorded a conclusion of natural causes.

The football-mad lad lived in from Abertysswg in the south Wales valleys. He starred for Aberbargoed Buds FC under-18s and Pengam under 16s.

He died suddenly on August 15 and was found after his sister tried to wake him up at 2.10pm.

Despite the best efforts of paramedics and his mother Gail Pickford, who worked as a nurse, they were unable to revive him.

An inquest at Newport Coroners' Court on Thursday heard that Mrs Pickford had woken up at 4am to go to work and she could hear the television in Jake's room as he was playing on his Xbox.

She told police this was not an uncommon occurrence as he would stay up late and sleep in the next day.

When she returned from work, Mrs Pickford asked her daughter Chloe if Jake had eaten anything and was told he was still in bed.

Chloe went upstairs to ask Jake what he wanted to eat but found him unresponsive.

She called Mrs Pickford who began CPR on her son and the ambulance was called.

When paramedics arrived they found Jake unresponsive and were told by Mrs Pickford that he had suffered a cardiac arrest.

When they examined Jake they found a low temperature and no heartbeat. At 2.23pm, Jake was declared deceased.

The inquest heard that prior to his death, Jake had no significant medical issues and had recently visited the doctors where he complained of feeling tired and lethargic.

Blood tests revealed he had a slightly high bilirubin level but there were no significant abnormalities.

A post-mortem was carried out by pathologist Dr Andrew Bamber which revealed no signs of injury or trauma and there were no signs of third party involvement.

The inquest was told that tests were carried out, especially around the heart, but no abnormalities were flagged up.

A toxicology examination revealed there were no signs of alcohol, drug or medicine intake.

Dr Bamber concluded there was no evidence of a convincing case for the cause of Jake's death so the official cause of death was given as SADS.

Speaking at the time of Jake's death his family paid tribute to him.

They said: "We are totally devastated by the loss of our amazing son and brother Jake, who has been taken from us far too soon."

A statement was also released by Jake's football team Aberbargoed Buds FC.

It said: "Jake was a great lad and a great player, he will be greatly missed by all.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Rest in peace young man."

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