Inquest hears former French Foreign Legion soldier died because of injuries sustained in accident 25 years ago (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Jeremy Gamma, of Nab Wood, suffered fatal pneumonia, inquest hears
7:00am Wednesday 24th October 2012 in News
An elite soldier in the French Foreign Legion died 25 years after he was hit by a drink-driver while crossing a road in Marseilles.
Jeremy Gamma’s family were at an inquest in Bradford yesterday to hear a narrative verdict recorded into the death of their son, who had spent the last 14 years of his life being nursed at Birkleas Nursing Home in Nab Wood, Shipley.
Coroner Peter Straker heard how Mr Gamma had been 25 when he had suffered severe brain trauma and multiple injuries which had left him a quadraplegic.
It was because of those injuries he developed a type of pneumonia which eventually claimed his life on September 19 this year, despite doctors’ best efforts at Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Mr Gamma’s 74-year-old mother, Elaine Strowger, who moved from Lincoln to Fairweather Green, Bradford, with her husband Robin to be close to their son 11 years ago, told the inquest they never heard what happened to the drink-driver.
“All we know is that Jeremy was at some kind of pelican crossing. One car had stopped for him and he began to cross but then the drink-driver presumably overtook that first car and hit him,” she said.
Mrs Strowger told the inquest she had lost two other soldier sons in car accidents since then, leaving her with just one who is living in Lincoln and now has two sons of his own.
Coroner Straker said it was “a terribly tragic story” and recorded a narrative verdict that read: “On December 8, 1987, Jeremy Gamma was struck by a car in France when he sustained serious injuries that resulted in him developing aspiration pneumonia from which he died.”
After the inquest, Mr and Mrs Strowger said they would be selling their Bradford home to return to Lincoln to focus on their surviving son and his family.
They praised staff at Birkleas Nursing Home, where their son had been happy.
Mr Strowger said they had been delighted in the 1980s when he seemed to have finally settled down when he joined the Foreign Legion and they had received letters from him for a while before they abruptly stopped.
They were shocked when they received an anonymous letter begging them to go to a hospital in Marseilles because their son was very sick. Mrs Strowger flew out finding him “skin and bone” and only then finding out he had been in an accident.
Mr Gamma was brought back to Lincoln and from there he moved to various nursing homes before finally settling at Birkleas.
“He knew us, which was a blessing but he could not remember things like what day it was. He never asked about the accident or questioned why him,” said Mrs Strowger.
Mr Gamma’s brother, Martin, died in Germany in 1989, aged 25, and his 44-year-old brother Richard, a major in the Australian army, died when his car rolled off a road in 2008.
Mrs Stowger said: “Life has been cruel but it has also shown how precious every day is. I see parents on the bus busy on their mobile phones ignoring their little ones and I think, make the most of them you don’t know how long you’ll have them.”