A Brit tourist had metal rods inserted into her legs after she was crushed by a palm tree while sunbathing at a luxury resort in Sri Lanka.
Claire Saywell, 42, from Sittingbourne, in Kent, was sunning herself at the all-inclusive four star Club Hotel Dolphin resort with husband Darren when a 50ft tree fell across her sun bed, shattering her legs.
Claire, who works as a commercial insurance broker, said she feared she would never walk again as three men struggled to lift the tree off her.
She said: “I was dozing in the sun with my eyes closed and the next thing I knew I had this excruciating pain in my legs. I remember seeing the tree and screaming ‘get it off me’ as the pain was nothing like I’ve ever experienced. My legs were bent down into a ‘V’ shape where the sun lounger had broken and when the men managed to get the tree off my legs looked deformed with my feet going in different directions. I will never get that vision out of my head. I thought my legs were gone.
“Everyone was running around panicking and I was trying to avoid looking at my legs as they were such a mess. It took 45 minutes for the ambulance to come and all I could do was lie there as they were concerned I would go into cardiac arrest if I was moved. Where I was in such a state of shock that the pain didn’t really kick in properly until they tried to transport me to the ambulance. Then a feeling of agony like I have never experienced shot through my body.”
It is crucial that holiday resorts and tour operators ensure trees are properly inspected and maintained to avoid incidents like this happening again.
The tree also hit another Brit tourist who suffered minor injuries. A nurse, who was staying at the hotel, ran to treat the man first as his chest was bleeding and she did not realise Claire was so seriously injured.
She was transferred to Colombo where she had titanium pins put in her legs to hold them together. She spent 12 days in hospital before being flown home on a private jet.
Claire says she still suffers nightmares and flash backs as a result of what happened in February this year.
She said: “I can’t actually believe what has happened. It wasn’t like I was doing anything dangerous like riding on a motorbike, I was sun bathing, but I ended up with two broken legs. I get flash backs, have nightmares and I can’t sleep. My husband says he can still hear my screams. The whole experience has been awful and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
Claire, who is taking legal action against tour operator TUI, said she is terrified to go abroad again.
“We were supposed to be on a luxury holiday and I have been left with this nightmare. I’ve been told it will take me up to six months to recover. Personally I would take down all of the palm trees around where people sun bathe to prevent this happening again. We’ve been offered a free holiday but I don’t want to go back. I’m scared to go abroad at all.”
Larry Shaw, a travel specialist at Slater and Gordon, which represents Claire, said: “When people go on holiday to a luxury resort the last thing they expect is for a palm tree to fall on them as they sunbathe. Claire has suffered horrific injuries that will take months to heal while the mental scars could take even longer. It is crucial that holiday resorts and tour operators ensure trees are properly inspected and maintained to avoid incidents like this happening again.”