Hypothermia caused walker to undress before dying

Business director Jason Gates. Picture: PA/PA Wire

Business director Jason Gates. Picture: PA/PA Wire

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A business director who went on a Highland walking holiday to get away from work stress was found dead after suffering from hypothermia which caused him to strip off his clothes, an inquest heard.

Jason Gates, who ran an employment consultancy with his father and brother-in-law, was reported missing on 17 March after his dog, Max, was found on farmland close to Drumnadrochit, near Loch Ness.

The 36-year-old’s body was found on 3 May in a dense forest on nearby Cnoc A’Bhuachaille.

David Horsley, coroner for Portsmouth, said a post 
mortem examination revealed the businessman, described by his family as a “gentle giant”, had died of hypothermia.

He described how he beleived Mr Gates had undertaken “paradoxical undressing”, a symptom of the condition which leads people to take their clothes off as it makes them feel hot despite them actually suffering from the cold.

Mr Horsley said: “When people start to develop hypothermia they are actually cold but they feel hot and take their clothes off.”

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mr Horsley said of Mr Gates: “He has gone up to Scotland to help clear his head, he had been having some health problems.

“He had been enjoying walking his dog when he has developed hypothermia and he has died. His death is due to a tragic accident.”

Speaking to the director’s family, he said: “I am so awfully sorry, what a terrible shock for you and to have it drawn out for so long in the time it took to find him. I am entirely satisfied that Jason has died due to an accident.”

Mr Gates’s father, Malcolm, told the inquest his son had been suffering from stress and they had “suspended” him from work to make him take a holiday.

He said: “He was stressed, we wanted him to have a break from the business because he hadn’t had a holiday for many years.”

The inquest heard Mr Gates had a history of depression and had been seen by mental health services in recent months. He had been staying in Aviemore on holiday at the time he died.

Speaking after the inquest, Mr Gates’s sister, Alison Ware, said: “He was a lovely guy, we knew him best and he was a lovely, fun guy, a bit quiet and always described as a gentle giant, he wouldn’t hurt anyone. The best brother and uncle you could ever have, it’s just a tragedy.”

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