A HEALTHY teenager found dead in bed on Christmas Day was killed by a sudden, unexplained heart defect.
Peter Pickup, 17, had shown no signs of illness before his mother, Margaret, discovered him not breathing at their home at Crescent Royd, Almondbury, on Christmas morning.
Just the day before he had been playing in the snow and had posted messages on social networking website Facebook as late as 2am on Christmas Day.
Margaret, 61, and her husband, Stephen, 79, were left devastated and baffled by their son’s sudden death.
An inquest into his death will not be held until July.
But a post-mortem has revealed Peter suffered a random heart attack caused by cardiomyopathy, a heart muscle disease.
Mr Pickup said: “He had been very much alive and never shown any symptoms.
“At least we know now what caused it and how he died. It makes things a little bit easier.”
Peter, who was the couple’s only child, had no underlying medical conditions other than asthma.
He had been to midnight mass with his mother on Christmas Eve and was discovered at 9am the following day.
Despite desperate attempts by Mr and Mrs Pickup, who are both members of St John Ambulance, and paramedics to save him, he was pronounced dead that day.
Peter, a former Almondbury High School pupil, was a cadet with the St John Ambulance’s Dearne Valley Division for eight years. He had been studying travel and tourism at Kirklees College and hoped to become a customs officer.
Mrs Pickup said she and her husband were coming to terms with their loss.
She said: “We’re not doing too bad. The pain never goes away, but we’re doing the best we can.”
Sarah Dennis, of charity the Cardiomyopathy Association, said such incidents were not uncommon.
She said: “Sadly, cardiomyopathy is a condition that can affect young people.
“It is estimated that around four young people die suddenly and unexpectedly from it each week in the UK.
“Often they have not had any symptoms that suggest a heart disease.
“It is very traumatic for everyone involved and our hearts go out to Peter’s family.”
Barbara Harpham, national director for Yorkshire-based Heart Research UK, said the charity had carried out studies into cardiomyopathy, leading to better services for families with members who have had the condition.
She added: “The death of a young person in these circumstances is devastating for a family, especially as there is little or no warning.
“The majority of young sudden cardiac deaths are due to inherited forms of heart muscle disorder and irregular heart beats.
“Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the most common of these conditions. Cardiomyopathy is a weakening of the heart muscle and is sadly not uncommon in young people.”