Tunisia tragedy: Wigan boy, just two, drowned on holiday while mother sunbathed only feet away, inquest hears

A Wigan boy of two drowned in a hotel swimming pool just a few feet away from his mother as she lay sunbathing in the water during a family holiday in Tunisia, an inquest heard today.

Little Loui Aspinall got into difficulties after going into the pool after lunch at the all-inclusive Houda Golf and Beach Resort at Skanes near the city of Monastir.

His mother Emma, 30, who had been lying on her belly in the shallow end realised her son was in trouble when she looked up and saw him lying face down at the water’s edge.

One hotel guest even reported the incident on hotel review website Trip Advisor and wrote about how they will ‘never wipe the images from their mind’.

Loui, from Wigan, was pulled from the pool by another tourist but he died in hospital despite attempts to revive him.

The hearing was told in the days before the accident, a lifeguard would be spotted walking around the pool ‘from time to time’ but was not seen sat round it.

The tragedy occurred on the third day of Loui’s family’s holiday last September after it was booked through Thompson Holidays.

The youngster, his father Gavin Aspinall, 28, housewife Emma, and six-year-old sister Darcy had flown from Manchester on September 22 and were taken to the hotel by coach and were all sharing a room.

The family had spent the first couple of days by the pool and the children had gone into the water themselves to play.

When asked by coroner Alan Walsh if she had been aware of any lifeguards, Emma told the Bolton hearing: “I don’t remember actually seeing lifeguards sat round the pool but I did see them from time to time walking around.”

When asked about lifeguard signs she added: “I don’t know whether it said ‘not on duty’ or ‘not always on duty’. There was a sign near the bridge.”

She said that they had sat on sun loungers in the same place throughout their holiday, which were positioned ‘where the shallow end was’.

She added: “The pool started really really shallow then gradually got deeper. Then there was a separate pool. It wasn’t far from where we were.”

She said that the kids would go in the pool with both her and Gavin and said that Loui had both rubber rings and armbands and agreed that he would have them on when he went into the pool.

The incident happened on September 25 after the family had been for lunch at around 12 noon at the restaurant within the hotel. The family had four sun loungers not far from the edge of the pool.

Emma said they were, ‘not far, we were right near’ and added that after lunch she had gone back to the pool area.

She said: “I was already at the pool before they came. I was laid down in the pool on my belly. He (Loui) needed the toilet. You had to go all the way back into the hotel. Gavin took him into the water while Loui, he had a wee. I was in the water.”

Gavin took Darcy and Loui into the pool and Emma added: “I just thought they were still in the pool. I got up to sit on the sun lounger.

“I glanced over and I could see him on the edge of the pool laid down. I got up and ran round to him.”

CCTV cameras captured Loui playing near the pool at 1.12pm after he had been in the water with Gavin. He was found by a tourist who rescued him from the water 1.19pm.

There was a seven-minute period between being seen at the pool and to him being found.

Emma told the inquest that she had not heard anything from the time he went in the pool with his sister and father.

She said she had not been aware of them coming back and had not been aware of anything until seeing him on the side of the pool.

The coroner said that Loui had been found under the water in front of where Emma had been laying but was in an area deeper than his height.

The inquest heard that one lady who was a nurse had taken charge and there had been a mention of a doctor from the hotel.

Pathologist Dr Melanie Newbold who gave the cause of death as drowning told the inquest that she could not say if help had been available sooner or if he had been resuscitated by a doctor the outcome would have been different.

The hearing was adjourned until May 14 when it is expected other eyewitnesses will give evidence.

Details of the tragedy only emerged four weeks after the incident after holidaymakers spoke of it as they posted reviews on the social media travel site Trip Advisor.

One holidaymaker wrote: “What is completely unacceptable is the complete lack of basic training given to staff which resulted in fatal consequences.

“After a week of watching lifeguards sleeping on duty with their heads wrapped in towels or hiding drinking neat vodka at the top of the slides with young female guests I witnessed the most horrific incident of my life – a little boy drowned.

“Nobody appeared to be trained in basic CPR and it took a full ten minutes for the hotel doctor to stroll over, he didn’t appear to know what he was doing either.

“I will never wipe the images from my mind or the sound of the poor mother screaming her son’s name.”

Loui’s parents now want a change in the law to ensure all hotel swimming pools have fully-trained lifeguards.

Story via Cavendish Press

Image courtesy of, via Youtube, with thanks

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