Waiter Arrested After Allergic Customer Almost Dies

| by John Freund
Simon-Pierre CanuelSimon-Pierre Canuel

A waiter in Canada was arrested after a customer almost died from an allergic reaction to the food he ate.  

Simon-Pierre Canuel was eating dinner with his partner at Le Tapageur restaurant in Sherbrooke, Quebec.  Canuel claims he alerted the waiter to his allergy to salmon and seafood, but the waiter took no notes and did not appear to alert staff in the kitchen, according to CBC. 

Canuel ordered beef tartare, but upon taking a bite he realized it was salmon. It is unclear how the salmon reached Canuel -- whether the waiter accidentally brought it over, or his partner had ordered it and Canuel ate it by mistake. Either way, Canuel instantly knew he was in trouble.  

"With the dim lighting, it's not easy to tell the difference between two dishes, especially if they use mayonnaise. It can be confusing," Canuel said. "[My partner] confirmed that it was salmon and he said we had to go to hospital. We told the waiter, who apologized, saying he would bring me beef," Canuel recalled.  "That's when I started going into anaphylactic shock and having difficulty breathing."

Canuel had left his EpiPen in his car, reports Newser. He was taken to a local hospital and put in the intensive care unit, where he was treated for a severe allergic reaction. Canuel claims he also went into cardiac arrest the following day, which led to him being in a coma for several days.

"I almost died," Canuel said.

Canuel filed a formal charge against the waiter, who was then arrested and charged with criminal negligence, which carries a punishment of anything from a fine to life in prison. Based on previous cases, it is unlikely the waiter will serve time in prison, if convicted.

According to Simon Roy, a law professor at the University of Sherbrooke, this case may represent the first time a waiter has been charged over such an incident.  "For a waiter, I haven't found one in Canada. This would indeed be the first time," said Roy.

Canuel says his health has improved, but alleges he still has psychological and emotional side effects. "I'm still afraid at times that I'll fall asleep and never wake up," he said. "I have anxiety attacks. There are times when I have heart palpitations, sweating attacks, etc."

The owner of the restaurant refused to comment until speaking with her attorney. 

Sources: CBC, Newser / Photo credit: CBC

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