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Hampton man dies after
allergic reaction to crab meat

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A six-foot-six, 300-pound welder ate crab meat at a restaurant, and died of anaphylactic shock, according to autopsy results released Monday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Rodney J. Hawkins, a Hampton man also known as "Krooks," was eating at Ruby Tuesday on Tara Boulevard in Lovejoy, at about 9:45 p.m., July 3. He reportedly ate Chicken Oscar, a chicken dish with "tender jumbo lump crab meat with asparagus tips and lemon-butter sauce," according to the restaurant's menu.

Hawkins had an allergic reaction to the entree.

"His medical history indicates that he was allergic to shell fish," said John Bankhead, a GBI spokesman.

Original reports said the 35-year-old ordered the Chicken Fresco and the Chicken Oscar was brought by mistake, but the restaurant is denying the claim.

Rick Johnson, spokesman for the Maryville, Tenn.-based Ruby Tuesday company, told The Associated Press that the server's order pad and the kitchen ticket indicate Hawkins ordered the Chicken Oscar, the dish he was served.

Johnson said the situation was tragic.

According to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, an allergy-based reaction can begin with a tingling sensation, itching, and a metallic taste. A reaction normally exhibits itself in a swelling of the mouth and throat, and causes difficulty breathing.

The Clayton County Fire Department responded to reports that a man at the restaurant was having difficulty breathing. Hawkins was pronounced dead at Southern Regional Medical Center, about 30 minutes after his body reacted to the crab meat.

According to Hawkins' obituary, released by Carl J. Mowell & Sons Funeral Homes, the man leaves behind his wife, two children and an extended family. He is scheduled to be buried in Illinois.