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Semi-professional gamer with epilepsy died playing Xbox with friends, inquest hears

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A passionate gamer and talented singer who died unexpectedly while playing with friends online would “light up any room she was in”.

Natanya Brook - known as Tanya - died suddenly on the morning of Sunday, August 1.

Natanya Brook died suddenly in her Aylesford home in August 2021. Credit: JB Edits
Natanya Brook died suddenly in her Aylesford home in August 2021. Credit: JB Edits

Tanya, of Heathcote Close, Aylesford, near Maidstone, had been playing on her Xbox with friends in a virtual reality room the night before and into the morning of her death, staying up until at least 2am.

The following morning her mum, Jenny Brook, checked her room to find the 23-year-old laid up against the bed, but thought she was asleep.

A few hours later she returned and found her daughter in the same position and knew something was wrong.

She attempted CPR and rang the emergency services, but the former Aylesford secondary school pupil was pronounced dead by paramedics.

Speaking about the heartbreak of losing her daughter, who was also her full-time carer, former landlady Jenny said: “Tanya was my best friend.

“I told her everything and she told me everything. Even some of the things I didn’t want to know.

“She had the best sense of humour, and nobody I know had a bad memory of her.

“Tanya was a real people’s person and could easily stop people arguing. This girl was beyond amazing.”

During an inquest at County Hall in Maidstone the court heard how Ms Brook was a passionate gamer who played on a team at a “very good” level.

She was part of a semi-professional gaming team and loved singing, having auditioned for The X Factor and The Voice.

Natanya Brook died suddenly in her Aylesford home in August 2021. Credit: JB Edits
Natanya Brook died suddenly in her Aylesford home in August 2021. Credit: JB Edits

Coroner Bina Patel heard how she had been drinking vodka and coke at the time and was last seen gaming by her mum at around 2am on August 1.

Ms Brook had a history of absent and vacant seizures, including having childhood absence epilepsy at the age of six - a condition which results in the sudden loss of awareness.

The condition often put her in danger as a young child where she would zone out, with her mother saving her from harm on a number of occasions.

A post-mortem report from Dr Deirdre McKenna revealed there were no abnormalities in any of Ms Brook’s major organs and that she was unable to find the exact mechanism which caused her death.

However, she found that on the balance of probabilities the medical cause of death was sudden unexpected death in epilepsy.

Speaking about the finding, Jenny Brook said: “We always told Tanya her epilepsy was a diagnosis and not an excuse to not do anything, and that’s how she lived her life.

“She changed people’s lives whether it be encouraging people to sing or making them smile.

“She just had this ability to pull people towards her. I don’t think there is any more she could’ve done in her 23 years.”

Ms Brook’s mum explained how Tanya’s gaming friends recalled hearing the gamer suddenly saying “ooh, I feel...” and then silence.

“It’s like a light switch went out,” Jenny added.

“That brings me a little bit of peace as I know she wasn’t in any sort of pain as they would have heard it.

“I still have a gaping hole in me and miss her as she was such an amazing bright light in my life.”

Tanya, who was born in Bognor Regis and regularly visited is known by some as Pickle. She leaves behind her parents Jenny and Leslie, brother Emmett, nan, dog Baggins and many friends and family.

Coroner Bina Patel gave a narrative conclusion, saying: “Natanya Brook was found in her bedroom at her home address on August 1 where she died of unknown but natural causes, likely because of problems connected to epilepsy.

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