'Yorkshire's finest pilot' who survived helicopter crash died from blood clot eight days later

Nigel Feetham, 36, from Hedon was attending a vintage aircraft fly-event at Breighton Aerodrome near Howden on July 17, 2016 when he offered to take some friends for a short flight in his Alouette helicopter, which had recently undergone a 40,000 service in Hungary.
Nigel Feetham, 36, from Hedon was attending a vintage aircraft fly-event at Breighton Aerodrome near Howden on July 17, 2016 when he offered to take some friends for a short flight in his Alouette helicopter, which had recently undergone a 40,000 service in Hungary.
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A pilot described as one of Yorkshire’s finest survived a helicopter crash only to die in hospital eight days later from a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot in his leg and neck, an inquest heard.

Nigel Feetham, 36, from Hedon was attending a vintage aircraft fly-event at Breighton Aerodrome near Howden on July 17, 2016 when he offered to take some friends for a short flight in his Alouette helicopter, which had recently undergone a £40,000 service in Hungary.

An inquest, held into Mr Feetham’s death at Hull Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, heard moments before the crash he carried out a “quick stop” manoeuvre, which although classed as “routine” by pilots, sees an aircraft rapidly decelerate in the air.

As it levelled out, the rotor blades hit the helicopter’s tail and the rear blades broke from the aircraft, before it plunged around 100 ft to the ground.

One eyewitness said: “I heard a loud, sharp crack and the rotors broke into pieces like a box of confetti.”

All five occupants of the helicopter were injured and taken to various hospitals.

Mr Feetham who had spinal and leg injuries was flown by air ambulance to Leeds General Infirmary.

He underwent an operation on his back and was expected to make a full recovery only to die from the pulmonary embolism eight days later.

Read more: Vintage helicopter passenger tells of crash at Yorkshire airfield which killed his friend

Family and friends of Mr Feetham expressed concerns about the “lack of care” given to him by medical staff at Leeds General Infirmary prior to his death.

His mother Vivian Feetham claimed she was worried her son - who weighed 22 stone and was 6ft 7ins tall - was at risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) because of the operation he had and the fact he was constantly laid flat in his hospital bed.

She said: “I mentioned my concerns to staff because he did not have any stockings on.

“I also asked why inflatable stockings he was eventually given were not working only to be told by the consultant that Nigel had to use the green button near him to switch them on.”

Mrs Feetham said physiotherapists had tried to get her son out of bed three days after the accident but the zimmer frame they had for him was too short. She was told they would come back with another frame more suitable for his size but this never happened.

Mrs Feetham also claimed her son waited as long as six hours for medication to be given to him, despite constantly stating he was in a lot of pain.

Read more: Survivor of Yorkshire vintage helicopter crash describes fatal descent

Mrs Feetham last saw her son alive on the evening of July 24, and said that upon her leaving the hospital he looked “so well” and she had “no concerns”.

She received a telephone call from a close friend of Mr Feetham’s the following day, telling her she needed to get to the hospital urgently as “things were not looking good”.

When she arrived at the hospital, staff were administering CPR, but Mr Feetham could not be saved.

Mrs Feetham said: “I stood and watched him die.

“I question why all these staff were not looking after him prior to all of this.”

Home Office Pathologist Dr Mark Egan said Mr Feetham’s medical cause of death was from a pulmonary embolism caused by DVT as a result of recent trauma.

He estimated the blood clots to Mr Feetham’s leg and neck were “less than five days old on the balance of probability”.

The inquest continues.