Trainee pilot, 21, died after being bit by a mosquito on her forehead

An inquest heard that a trainee commercial airline pilot died after being bitten by a mosquito and developing an illness that went to her brain.

Oriana Pepper, 21, of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, had aced her easyJet theoretical examinations in Oxford and had travelled to Belgium for her instrument ratings.

According to the evidence presented during Wednesday’s hearing in Ipswich, she was bitten by a mosquito on her forehead, near her right eye, and the bite seemed swollen and inflamed.

On July 7, 2021, she went to an emergency room at a hospital and was given antibiotics. Miss Pepper was transported back to the hospital by her lover James Hall two days later after fainting. She died three days later, on July 12, 2021, in the hospital.

In a descriptive finding, Suffolk’s chief coroner Nigel Parsley stated that Miss Pepper perished “as a consequence of a significant illness triggered by an insect bite to the forehead.”

Her medical manner of death was septic emboli in the brain, which are blood vessel blockages, with an infection by the bacterium staphylococcus aureus and an insect bite to the forehead also contributing.

Mr. Parsley added that an infection has invaded Oriana’s skin as a result of an insect bite. It then entered the carotid artery of the neck, causing septic emboli in her brain.

The coroner told Miss Pepper’s parents, Tristan and Louisa Pepper, who were in attendance at the inquiry, ‘I’ve never encountered a case like this before.’

‘It’s just one of those awful tragedies for a young person who obviously had a beautiful life and career ahead of her.’

Mr Pepper stated at the inquiry that his daughter “loved nothing more than to go flying with her dad and her brother Oliver, also a trainee commercial pilot.”

He portrayed flying to his daughter as “having an office in the sky amid the clouds.”

He continued that she had met somebody she loved, she was preparing to be a commercial pilot, and she was living her goals.

After landing in Antwerp on May 20, Miss Pepper’s boyfriend, James Hall, who met her in Phoenix, Arizona, where she acquired her private and commercial pilot licences, said they were ‘bitten many times without any reaction.’

Locals informed him that it was common for the location and time of year.

Miss Pepper then had a response to a bite and went to A&E on July 7 when her swelling ‘significantly increased,’ according to Mr Hall.

He stated that they were “informed she had an illness, most likely owing to the mosquito bite,” and that she was given oral medicines.

Mr Hall drove her back to A&E when she fell, ‘was disoriented and had difficulties communicating’ on July 9.

Miss Pepper died with her parents by her bedside, along with her twin brother Oscar and older brother Oliver.

After the inquiry, her mom stated that in Miss Pepper’s memory, they had “established a modest scholarship to inspire future women pilots” to pursue the field, in collaboration with the British Women Pilots’ Association.

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