A widow is suing TUI for £560,000 after her husband drowned during a ‘poorly monitored’ snorkelling lesson during an all-inclusive Caribbean dream holiday.
Roy Fawcett died while exploring the waters of Paradise Island off the Dominican Republic with a group of fellow snorkelers, two days before the end of a package holiday booked through TUI in October 2017.
While his wife Susan stayed in the shallows, Mr Fawcett joined others for an advanced snorkelling lesson in deeper waters, but failed to return with the rest of the group.
The 58-year-old subsequently spotted ‘floating face down in the water and not moving’ and rushed to hospital, but was later pronounced dead.
Following an inquest in September 2018, a coroner concluded Mr Fawcett died from ‘accidental drowning on a poorly monitored holiday excursion.’
The coroner added ‘there were question marks about the level of supervision’ on the trip, adding, ‘the organisers did not really know what to do.’
Mr Fawcett’s widow Susan, 60, is now suing holiday giants TUI at the High Court in London, claiming the operator is responsible for her husband’s death.
Her lawyers say Mr Fawcett was inadequately prepared for the dive and left unsupervised.
Roy Fawcett, 58, died while exploring the waters of Paradise Island, off the Dominican Republic, with a group of fellow snorkellers, two days before the end of a package holiday booked through TUI in October 2017. Pictured, Mr Fawcett with his wife Susan
But TUI disputes fault over the tragedy, also denying any responsibility for organising the excursion.
London’s High Court heard that Mr Fawcett’s death came two days before he and his wife were due to jet back from their two-week stay at the luxury Club Hotel Rui Bachata, which they had booked through TUI.
The couple went on to book the fateful excursion to Paradise Island, which, Mrs Fawcett claims, they did on the clear understanding that it was provided by TUI.
Once at Paradise Island, Mrs Fawcett chose to swim unaccompanied in shallow waters while her husband went off with a supervised group for a snorkelling lesson and swim in deeper water offshore.
But when the lesson ended 40 minutes later, Mr Fawcett failed to return with the rest of the group.
The snorkelling supervisor suddenly spotted him ‘floating face down in the water and not moving’, said Mrs Fawcett’s barrister Andrew Young.
London’s High Court heard that Mr Fawcett’s death came two days before he and his wife were due to jet back from their two-week stay at the luxury Club Hotel Rui Bachata, which they had booked through TUI. Pictured, on the couple’s wedding day
He claimed the supervisor ‘took no action other than raising the alarm (with a colleague) who was at that time travelling from the excursion catamaran to the island shore and went to investigate’.
Mr Fawcett was then shipped back to shore by supervising staff with the help of fellow snorkeller, Jamie Elkaleh, 29.
He was then relayed back to the mainland by speedboat, but Mrs Fawcett says the excursion guides negligently failed to arrange for an ambulance to meet him.
Instead, he was rushed to hospital in a pickup truck and his wife was later given the news he was dead.
Also suing TUI are Mr Elkaleh and another snorkeller, Aimee Allen, 29, who watched Mr Fawcett’s last moments and even struggled to save him as he slipped away.
It was Mr Elkaleh who put Mr Fawcett in the recovery position and freed his tongue after he was finally pulled onto the island beach, court documents disclose.
Ms Allen, a nurse, then told helpers to move the dying man because ‘incoming waves were still covering his face.’
Both were left mentally scarred from watching the ordeal, with Ms Allen suffering an ‘acute distress disorder’ and Mr Elkaleh stricken by PTSD and depression, it is claimed.
The incident also had a severe impact on Mrs Fawcett, Mr Young added.
‘She witnessed at very close hand her husband’s body being brought back to the island shore and the incompetent efforts made to rescue and resuscitate him,’ he said.
‘She accompanied him in the speedboat back to Punta Rucia when further incompetent efforts were made to resuscitate him, and in the pick-up truck to the local hospital when no more resuscitation efforts were made.
Mr Fawcett was then shipped back to shore by supervising staff with the help of fellow snorkeller, Jamie Elkaleh, 29. Pictured, the Club Hotel Rui Bachata in the Dominican Republic
‘On arrival at the hospital, she was separated from him for a short time and was then told that he had died.’
The case reached court this week in a preliminary hearing to decide what expert evidence will be needed at the trial.
The court heard there are still questions over the precise cause of Mr Fawcett’s death – with speculation over whether he may have struck his head or whether fluid on the lungs may have been a cause of death.
Mr Young told Judge Roger Eastman his case was that Mr Fawcett was inadequately monitored during the diving trip.
He said: ‘Mr Fawcett wasn’t given sufficient guidance or training in how to use his equipment, he was not properly supervised when he was doing the snorkelling, and when it was realised that he had been taken ill and needed assistance, that was incompetently carried out.
‘We say that the excursion provider, and therefore indirectly TUI, were responsible for his death.’
TUI however says the snorkelling trip was not part of the all-inclusive package they provided to the couple and therefore not the travel company’s legal responsibility.
Recording his verdict, following the 2018 inquest, the coroner commented that ‘there were question marks about the level of supervision’ on the snorkelling trip.
‘Sadly, Roy got into trouble… the organisers did not really know what to do and the holidaymakers did their best to assist,’ he added.
A date has not yet been set for the full trial of the damages claims.