A British father died on a family trip to Disney World in Florida after ingesting the synthetic opioid fentanyl, an inquest has been told.
Philip Weybourne, from West Malling in Kent, was on holiday in the United States with his wife and young son in May 2022 when he suddenly fell ill.
The 40-year-old, who was the director of an international IT company, collapsed and died after going to a bar at the Yacht Club hotel in Epcot.
An inquest into his death held at Maidstone County Hall heard while he was rushed to hospital his condition deteriorated quickly and he could not be saved.
A blood test after his death found that he had fatal levels of fentanyl in his system – a powerful synthetic opioid similar to morphine which requires only two milligrams to prove potentially fatal.
The drug, which killed pop star Prince, is thought to have been responsible for the deaths of nearly one million people in the United States since 1999.
According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration: ‘Fentanyl is the single deadliest drug threat our nation has ever encountered. No community is safe from this poison.’
Philip Weybourne, pictured, died after ingesting a fatal amount of fentanyl while on holiday in Florida
The 40-year-old had been to the Boat House restaurant with his wife and young son for lunch on the day of his death, and left feeling well
In a statement read at the hearing, his wife, Dorlyn Weybourne said: ‘We began our holiday at Disneyland, in Orlando, Florida, on May 20, 2022.
‘On May 23, we woke up late and had no theme parks to attend on that day.
‘It was just going to be a relaxing day, we booked a meal at the Boat House, a seafood restaurant at Disney Springs which is also home to tours in vintage amphibious automobiles.
‘My son and I had been shopping and met with Philip at 1pm at the Boat House.’
Her statement continued: ‘We had the best lunch, we drunk champagne like we did when we lived in Dubai.
‘Afterwards we went on an amphibious car ride and to end our day we headed back to the hotel at about 5.30pm.’
Mrs Weybourne explained that her husband, the Middle East director of Excis Compliance Limited, a global IT support company, wanted to continue drinking and went to the Yacht Club hotel at Epcot Resorts Boulevard alone.
The family returned to the hotel before Mr Weybourne went to the Yacht Club hotel (pictured) at Epcot Resorts Boulevard, where he later collapsed
What is fentanyl and why is it so dangerous?
Fentanyl was originally developed in Belgium in the 1950s to aid cancer patients with their pain management.
Given its extreme potency it has become popular amongst recreational drug users.
Overdose deaths linked to synthetic opioids like fentanyl jumped from nearly 10,000 in 2015 to nearly 20,000 in 2016 – surpassing common opioid painkillers and heroin for the first time.
And drug overdoses killed more than 72,000 people in the US in 2017 – a record driven by fentanyl.
It is often added to heroin because it creates the same high as the drug, with the effects biologically identical. But it can be up to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to officials in the US.
In the US, fentanyl is classified as a schedule II drug – indicating it has some medical use but it has a strong potential to be abused and can create psychological and physical dependence.
After he showered he headed to the bar.
Two hours later Mrs Weybourne heard a knock at her hotel room door and she was told that her husband had been taken in an ambulance to hospital.
Mrs Weybourne said: ‘I asked them if it was heat stroke or a heart attack.’
He was taken to AdventHealth Celebration, a small care hospital in Celebration, Florida, whose patients are often tourists visiting Disney World.
Mrs Weybourne added: ‘When I got to the hospital I didn’t see my husband. I just remember the doctor telling me his time of death, 8:06pm.’
The doctors told Mrs Weybourne that her husband had died from a cardiac arrest.
After the autopsy it was revealed that he had fatal levels of fentanyl in his system.
Assistant coroner Catherine Wood said: ‘This must have been very difficult and distressing for Mr Weybourne’s family.
‘I don’t know the circumstances that led up to his death as Mr Weybourne died in another country.
‘He had no underlying health issues and I am content, after the findings of the autopsy, that his death was caused by fatal levels of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used as a pain medication.
‘I offer my sincere condolences to Mr Weybourne’s family.
‘It must have been a great shock and not something you needed to relive at the inquest.
‘I hope you can begin to rebuild your lives.’
Mrs Weybourne was joined by Mr Weybourne’s mother, Margaret, and his sister, Emma Wood, via video link.
They did not wish to comment further, saying at the inquest: ‘We spoke about Philip’s life at his funeral. It is time for closure.’
Disney has been contacted for comment.