Widow, 60, sues TUI for £560,000 after husband drowned during snorkeling lesson
A widow is suing TUI for £560,000 after her husband drowned during a ‘poorly supervised’ snorkeling lesson on an all-inclusive Caribbean dream trip.
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 tour booked through TUI in October 2017.
While his wife Susan stayed in the shallows, Mr. Fawcett joined others for an advanced snorkeling lesson in deeper water, but he did not return with the rest of the group.
The 58-year-old was then seen ‘floating face down in the water and not moving’ and was rushed to hospital but was later pronounced dead.
Following an inquest in September 2018, a coroner concluded that Mr Fawcett died of “accidental drowning on a poorly supervised holiday excursion”.
His widow Susan, 60, is now suing holiday giant TUI in 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 was left unsupervised.
Roy Fawcett, 58, 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 tour booked through TUI in October 2017. Pictured, Mr Fawcett with his wife Susan
But TUI disputes blame for the tragedy and also denies any responsibility for organizing the excursion.
The London High Court heard that Mr Fawcett died two days before he and his wife were due to fly back from their two week stay at the luxury Club Hotel Rui Bachata, which they had booked through TUI.
The couple then booked the ill-fated excursion to Paradise Island, which Ms Fawcett claims they did in the clear arrangement that it was provided by TUI.
Once on Paradise Island, Ms. Fawcett chose to swim in shallow water unsupervised, while her husband set out with a guided group for a snorkeling lesson and went swimming in deeper waters off shore.
But when the class ended 40 minutes later, Mr. Fawcett did not return with the rest of the group.
The snorkel supervisor suddenly saw him “floating face down in the water and not moving,” said Andrew Young, Ms Fawcett’s attorney.
The London High Court heard that Mr Fawcett died two days before he and his wife were due to fly 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 that the supervisor “took no action other than to sound the alarm (with a colleague) who was traveling from the excursion catamaran to the island coast at the time and was investigating.”
Mr Fawcett was then sent back to shore by supervisory staff with the help of fellow snorkeler Jamie Elkaleh, 29.
He was then sent back to the mainland by speedboat, but Ms Fawcett says the tour 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 that he was dead.
TUI are also suing Mr Elkaleh and another snorkeler, Aimee Allen, 29, who watched Mr Fawcett’s final moments and even struggled to save him when he slipped.
It was Mr Elkaleh who placed Mr Fawcett in the recovery position and freed his tongue after he was eventually pulled onto the island’s beach, court documents reveal.
Mrs. Allen, a nurse, then told helpers to move the dying man because “incoming waves were still covering his face.”
Both had mental scars from watching the ordeal, which saw Ms Allen suffering from ‘acute distress disorder’ and Mr Elkaleh afflicted with PTSD and depression, it is alleged.
The incident also had a serious impact on Ms Fawcett, Mr Young added.
“She witnessed very closely the return of her husband’s body to the coast of the island and the incompetent efforts to rescue and resuscitate him,” he said.
“She accompanied him in the speedboat back to Punta Rucia when further incompetent attempts were made to resuscitate him, and in the pickup truck to the local hospital when no more attempts were made to resuscitate him.
Mr Fawcett was then sent back to shore by supervisory staff with the help of fellow snorkeler 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 passed away.”
The case went to court this week in a preliminary hearing to decide what expert evidence will be needed during the trial.
The court heard there are still questions about the exact cause of Mr Fawcett’s death – with speculation as to whether he hit his head or whether fluid in the lungs may have been the cause of death.
Mr. Young told Judge Roger Eastman that his case was that Mr. Fawcett was insufficiently monitored during the dive trip.
He said: ‘Mr Fawcett was not given adequate supervision or training in the use of his equipment, he was not properly supervised when snorkelling and when it was realized that he had become ill and needed help, he was not. performed improperly.
“We say that the tour operator, and thus indirectly TUI, was responsible for his death.”
However, TUI says that the snorkeling trip was not part of the all-inclusive package they provided to the couple and therefore is not the legal responsibility of the tour company.
The coroner took his verdict after the 2018 investigation, noting that “there were question marks over the level of supervision” of the snorkeling trip.
“Unfortunately, Roy ran into trouble… the organizers weren’t quite sure what to do and the holidaymakers went out of their way to help,” he added.
No date has yet been set for the full handling of the claims.