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Soldier who survived war zones dies of wasp stings

Veteran: Lee Darker with his wife PICTURE: SWNS

A FORMER soldier was found dead after being stung by wasps in his new job as a pest controller, an inquest heard.

Lee Darker, 48, had seen service in combat zones during his 22-year career with the Royal Lancers.

But it was a routine callout to deal with a nest in a garage that cost him his life last September.

He had suffered no serious ill effects when he was stung eight times by wasps while on another job two weeks earlier.

But after he was stung twice in the garage of a soldier’s home at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire, he was found slumped in his van and could not be saved. Tests showed he had suffered an anaphylactic shock.

The soldier, Sgt Colin Lowe, said Mr Darker, 48, had mentioned being stung after finishing the job but seemed fine.

He added: ‘I returned to work and then received a telephone call from my mother-in-law telling me she had gone out to the garage and noticed his work van still parked outside.

‘She went up to the van and found him unresponsive and slumped in the passenger’s seat. I drove home quickly to find my mother-in-law attempting first aid.’

Sgt Lowe did not see if Mr Darker, from Darlington, wore protective gear in the garage. But the inquest heard he was ‘meticulous’ about rules. At the inquest in Harrogate, coroner Robert Turnbull recorded a conclusion of misadventure.

Mr Darker’s widow Barbara said: ‘This was the last thing you thought would have happened, especially considering his background in the army.’