Girl, 17, killed by the sudden noise of her mobile phone

A teenager was literally scared to death by the sudden ringing of her mobile telephone, an inquest was told yesterday.

It rang with an alarm call at 7am and Kasia Ber, 17, was so startled it triggered heart failure.

Unknown to anyone, she was suffering from a coronary condition in which attacks can be triggered by a sudden shock or an unexpected loud noise.

Kasia had consulted doctors over palpitations and shortness or breath, but these had been put down to stress.

The tests failed to discover that she had the genetic disorder Long QT syndrome.

Yesterday the youngster’s parents said that their grief was made worse by the knowledge that their daughter’s death could have been avoided. John and Diane Ber are campaigning for wider awareness of the illness and the screening of teenagers with heart problems.

They spoke out after a coroner recorder a narrative verdict on Kasia, who died at her home in Hordon, Co Durham, last December.

A narrative verdict is where a coroner simply records the circumstances surrounding a death.

Mr Ber, 45, a shift supervisor, said: “We think the coroner should have used his powers to make recommendations about screening teenagers like Kasia.”

The inquest heard that Kasia had been with boyfriend Scott Wheatley when they were both woken by the alarm.

He said: “Kasia said my name and she was shaking slightly. I held her to comfort her and then I realised she had stopped breathing.”

The family is raising money and awareness for the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young.

“She was perfectly fit and healthy, outwardly, but she was not screened,” said her father.

“We want to get young people screened.”

Long QT can be controlled with inexpensive drugs.

Kasia had sought medical help for breathlessness but it was diagnosed as stress or panic attacks. Locum GP Dr Michael Wallace told the inquest in Hartlepool that an ECG had not revealed Kasia’s heart condition. He was also unaware at the time that there was a family history of heart trouble.

Kasia’s grandfather died of arrhythmia, a heart condition related to Long QT syndrome.

Although her mother, 42, was diagnosed with Long QT syndrome the diagnosis was not followed up within her family.

Kasia’s aunt also died of arrhythmia and her aunt’s two children have Long QT.


Long QT syndrome is an inherited disorder of the heart’s electrical system. The “QT” refers to the interval in a normal heartbeat.

In people with Long QT syndrome this interval is sometimes longer than normal. It is this disturbance of the heart’s rhythm which is the problem. Sufferers may experience attacks of fast heart rhythm which can be life-threatening.

Long QT syndrome may explain some instances of sudden death in young people with no obvious heart abnormality.

Last year Colin Meyer, 37, of Urmston, Greater Manchester died after his alarm clock went off. It was later found that he had Long QT syndrome.

Read more about Long QT Syndrome