Trainee British Pilot, 21, Dies Several Days After Being Bitten By A Mosquito

A 21-year-old trainee pilot died after developing an infection that spread to her brain following a mosquito bite. The young woman was part of the EasyJet program in Oxford before her tragic death.

Pilot Oriana Pepper
Oriana Pepper, 21, tragically died after developing an infection following being bitten by a mosquito in Antwerp.

Oriana Pepper from Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk was well on her way to qualifying as a commercial airline pilot before she died.

Ms Pepper was a part of the EasyJet program in Oxford and had passed her theory exams with flying colours, she had subsequently gone to Belgium for her instrument ratings.

The 21-year-old was bitten on her forehead by her right eye while in Antwerp. The bite swelled up and became infected so she went to hospital on July 7 2021 and was prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Just two days later, Ms Pepper became delirious and collapsed, resulting in her boyfriend, James Hall, rushing her back to hospital.

Tragically, on July 12, just three days later, Oriana died in hospital.

Nigel Parsley, a senior coroner from Suffolk said that Ms Pepper had died "as a result of a serious infection caused by an insect bite to the forehead".

Mr Parsley added: "An infection has entered Oriana's skin following a bite by an insect. It's then gone into the carotid artery of the neck and led to septic emboli in her brain."

Addressing Oriana's devastated parents, Tristan and Louisa Pepper, Mr Parsley said: "I've never seen a case like this before. "It's just one of those things that's just such an unfortunate tragedy for a young lady who clearly had a wonderful career and life ahead of her."

Tristan Pepper read a statement during the inquest, he said that his daughter "loved nothing better than to go flying with her dad and her brother Oliver, also a trainee commercial pilot". He recalled how his daughter described flying as "having an office in the sky amongst the clouds".

Mr Pepper added: "She had met someone she loved, she was training to be a commercial pilot and was fulfilling her dreams."

Oriana died with both of her parents by her bedside.

Her mum said after the inquest that the family had "set up a small scholarship to encourage other women pilots" to enter the profession in memory of their daughter, working alongside the British Women Pilots' Association. She said: "That's a positive thing from her life."

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