A LYTHAM soldier described as “fit as a fiddle” collapsed in his wife’s arms and died after a flu virus attacked his heart.
Maj Carl Coats, 35 from St Annes died in a German hospital with his wife Angela by his side.
Maj Coats, who served with the Royal Engineers 28 Regiment was struck down with a flu virus last February which left his heart dangerously enlarged.
The former Arnold pupil, who married at Easter, was coping well with his symptoms – but tragedy struck when he collapsed suddenly on January 14 as the couple had dinner at their home in Hamelin, Germany.
Paramedics and hospital staff battled to save his life, but Maj Coats died six hours later. He will be buried today in Lytham with full military honours.
His family are now waiting the results of a post mortem examination to give the exact cause of his death.
American-born Angela, 39, said: “It is so ironic the man with the biggest heart I’ve ever met has died in this way. I can’t believe somebody so fit and healthy can be struck down like this by flu, it’s so hard to take in.
“Carl really lived life to the full and made the best of things, his attitude was if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
“When he got ill, I knew he wouldn’t live until 80 but I never imagined he’d be taken so soon.
“He was my soulmate and made me laugh every single day.”
Major Coats had served in Northen Ireland, Baghdad and Iraq twice as part of his long military career.
He was also an experienced skydiver, scuba diver, mountain climber and skier. He had no idea his health had been affected by the flu virus until he visited the doctor a month later suffering from an irregular heartbeat.
He was immediately transferred to intensive care for three weeks so doctors could assess him and banned from any rigorous activity.
His father Ian, 63, from St Alban’s Road in St Annes said: “This is such a shock to us because Carl really was as fit as a fiddle.
“He sometimes got frustrated because his condition meant he couldn’t take part in training with his men.
“Our only comfort is he lived such a varied and interesting life and had some wonderful experiences.
“He was a born people person as well as being very technically skilled.
“He wanted to be in the military from being very young and will be missed by all who knew him.”
He leaves a brother Cristian, 31, stepbrother Tomas, 27 and stepmother Kathryn. He also had a stepdaughter Ashlar.