THE family of a man who died after choking on a sausage in the street have paid tribute to his memory.
David Atkins, 46, an IT entrepreneur and Army reservist, collapsed outside Sainsbury’s supermarket in Poole town centre while eating his lunch on New Year’s Eve 2013.
When paramedics examined him he was found to have a large piece of sausage meat blocking his airway.
The father-of-two suffered severe brain damage and cardiac arrest as a result, and six days later his family were at his side in Poole Hospital when his life support machine was switched off.
“We were already at the hospital when he was brought in,” said his dad, Phil Atkins.
“My wife Mavis had just had an operation, so when the doctor called and asked us to come to the hospital we only had to go downstairs to A&E, and there he was on life support.
“It was a shock to say the least, coming on top of everything else.
“Everyone said how bizarre it was, even our GP who had only heard of one case in his career.
“But then David wouldn’t do anything ordinary or boring.
“They said even if he survived he wouldn’t have any worthwhile life left, so they switched him off.”
Mr Atkins had just entered remission after treatment for soft cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. He lived with his parents in Hamilton Road, Corfe Mullen, as well as in his mobile home at Rockley Park, Hamworthy.
Born in Maidstone, he grew up in High Wycombe where he attended the Royal Grammar School, before studying at Bristol University.
After university and a brief spell working in the Cayman Islands, he set up one of the first video conferencing firms – Videoweb – with a group of friends.
He was an enthusiastic British Army reservist, posted at the Royal Marine base in Poole, and also a member of the Maritime Volunteer Service.
He was married to Helen for 18 years, and the pair had two children, Joanne, 19, and Lauren, 14, but they divorced two years ago and he left the family home in Newbury for Poole.
Mrs Atkins said: “He was a much-loved son and a much-loved brother to his sister Catherine, who flew over from America to be with him in hospital.
“He loved to be active and made many friends through the reservists and down in Rockley Park.”
She praised the help and support the family had received from hospital staff.
“I am amazed at the support we have had from friends and even people we don’t know that well.
“It does restore your faith in human nature,” she added.