Caron Heyes of Blake Lapthorn represented the family of Carl Bridgeman at the inquest into his death which took place on Tuesday 7 September at Barnet Coroner's court. They were very pleased at the verdict reached by the Coroner. Having legal representation allowed them to press for answers to a range of questions they had about how Carl died, that otherwise would have been possible for them to frame given their distress and lack of access to specialist legal and medical experts in the issues raised. Caron Heyes is the head of the London clinical negligence team and specialises in inquest law and fatal accident claims. The family are also pursuing a civil claim against the hotel in Spain, and are represented in that action by Blake Lapthorn's specialist travel team.
On 17 April 2008 Carl and his mother, Elorine Bridgeman, and his Aunt, were on holiday at the Hotel Olympic, in Calella, Spain. Carl was 16 and had made friends with other teenagers of his age at the hotel. He and two girls he was friends with went to the hotel swimming pool after lunch. Initially they swam in the shallow end and then moved to the deep end of the pool. The girls left the pool whilst Carl continued to swim. Suddenly they heard shouting and another holiday maker, on the balcony of their hotel room on one of the upper floors, was shouting that Carl was drowning. Carl's friend, Lucy Thomas, dived into the pool to try and pull him out but was not strong enough. Then two other young men arrived, also guests at the hotel and dived in and pulled Carl out. Tragically, he was not breathing and despite continued efforts by Mr. James Taylor and Mrs. Dee Cottey, also guests at the hotel, to resuscitate him they were unable to save his life. During the entire 25 minutes they tried to save him no hotel life guard was present.
HM coroner found he died of drowning and that no lifeguards were present at the poolside. The family are pursuing a claim for negligence against the owners of the hotel on the basis that they contravened Spanish law, which required an effective system of rescue to be in place at a hotel swimming pool. HM coroner's verdict supports the family view that there was a failure to provide a rescue system at all, and that contributed to Carl Bridgeman's death.
HM Coroner's investigations were lengthy and detailed. Delay in reaching the final hearing date was due to the fact that the Spanish authorities did not repatriate Carl's heart with his body and his family had to go to court three times to obtain an order that the Spanish authorities should repatriate his heart. The separation of the heart from Carl's body caused his mother and father an extraordinary level of pain and anxiety, and has prolonged their suffering.
They wish to voice their thanks to those who tried to save Carl as follows:
They also thank HM Coroner Andrew Walker, and his officers, Grahame White and Ann Murphy for the sensitive and professional way in which they handled their enquiries.