Father dies 'in agony' after eating gecko as a dare at Christmas party


July 02 2019

Family and friends of a "lovable, larrikin" Queensland father are pleading for answers after a dare - to eat a gecko at a Christmas party - ended up claiming his life.

Logan dad David Dowell, who would have celebrated his 35th birthday last week, died in "absolute agony" on December 11 last year, a week after being taken to Brisbane's Mater Hospital.

The father died from a salmonella infection, believed to have been caused by consumption of the gecko.

Friends say Dowell attended a Christmas party on December 1, where they reportedly saw him eat the lizard.

By Monday, Dowell was "in agony" with what his partner of 15 years, Allira, initially believed to be a severe bout of gastro.



Dowell's sister, Hannah, told The Brisbane Times Allira had to beg paramedics to take him to hospital on December 3.

"When they got there, the (paramedics) didn’t even want to take him (to hospital)," Hannah said.

"They said he just had gastro and his partner said: 'No, you've got to take him; it’s not just gastro'."

The following day, Dowell was diagnosed with salmonella - a food-borne bacteria that can be transferred from person to person.

Dowell's family initially assumed chicken consumed at the party was the cause of the infection.

But Hannah says the day before he was admitted to hospital, one of Dowell's mates told Allira about the gecko.

Hannah says there have been conflicting recollections as to whether Dowell actually ate the gecko, leaving the family in the dark about what actually caused the father-of-three's death.

"There has been no evidence that he actually ate it because there was: 'Oh yeah I saw him eat it'. And then: 'No, I didn’t see him eat it'," she said.

Dowell's family says his symptoms were "particularly confronting", with "black urine, green vomit and fluid in his lungs".

"His testicles were swollen up to grapefruits and there was fluid leaking from them and they (doctors) said that was normal, it was just all of the fluid in his stomach cavity," Dowell's mother, Michelle, told The Brisbane Times.

Dowell died during surgery on December 11, a week after being diagnosed.

His family says he "basically rotted from the inside out".

While the family has raised questions as to the hospital's treatment and practices, the Queensland coroner found Mater had administered appropriate care.

Dowell's family hopes his story will come as a warning to others about the dangers of salmonella, so another family does not have to go through what they have.

"Look out for the signs and realise how bad salmonella can be, so we can prevent it from happening to someone else," Hannah said.

This story originally appeared on 7News.com.au

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