The distraught parents of a four-year-old girl who died after being pulled from an Egyptian swimming pool had feared before the tragedy that their water park hotel was an “accident waiting to happen”.
Kelly and Thomas Maddison, from Bishop Auckland, visited the Jaz Makadi Aquqviva in Egypt for a holiday with their nine children for Christmas in 2017.
They told Newcastle Coroner’s Court on Monday that from the start of the trip, booked through tour company TUI, they were “not able to relax” due to health and safety concerns, including slippery floors and an unlocked door to their room leading directly to a swimming pool.
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And on December 21, the couple’s worst fears came true when their daughter Indianna Maddison went into the water of that pool.
After attempts to treat her at the local Aseel Medical Care Hospital, Indianna was taken back to Newcastle by plane. She died on December 26, five days after being pulled from the water.
The court heard that Kelly and Thomas had left the resort on December 21 with their two youngest children to collect some photos, leaving Indianna and siblings in the care of sister Billie Jean, now 25.
When they returned the little girl rushed to greet them, Thomas briefly returned to their room by the pool before going to get some food nearby. He said he knew where Indianna was and saw her by the pool steps with her siblings and had his eyes on her.
He had stopped to talk to other holidaymakers when he suddenly heard screams.
Thomas, 48, said: “There was a little boy who saw Indianna go into the pool and get his father, but by the time he told his father Indianna had gone under. I saw him pull Indianna out of the water, I heard her bang on her head as she came out of the water, her body was limp.
“There was no one to hold the crowd and get them to give Indianna space, it was chaos… My kids ran all over for help, but they couldn’t find any lifeguards.”
A friend who had taken the family on vacation managed to contain the crowd and perform CPR by the pool. When a doctor from the resort arrived on the scene, Thomas said, he merely shook his head after looking at the four-year-old’s body.
An ambulance arrived after about 15 minutes, the court heard, but it was unmanned by paramedics and fitted only with an oxygen mask that did not fit the little girl’s face. In the ambulance, as Thomas and the friend continued to attempt CPR, she began to breathe and her heart began to beat.
Despite their best efforts, by the time she reached Aseel Hospital, Indianna was left without the necessary life support for about an hour.
Medical expert witness Dr. Kenneth Power told the court that Indianna’s only chance of survival after the approximately five minutes she spent underwater would have been if she had received immediate “state of the art” life support.
Despite this, medics at the hospital assured her family that Indianna’s condition was “thumbs up.” While there were mixed messages and communication issues, with family speaking largely to medics through a TUI representative who supported them, they said they had been given heartbreaking false hopes that their daughter would survive.
Doctors said Indianna could be flown home and arrangements had been made for her to fly to the UK with her mother on Christmas Eve.
Mama Kelly said: “There was never a doubt that Indianna wouldn’t be okay. We thought she would be handicapped at most. I was so sure she would be fine. They said everything was fine.”
She added: “We all thought she would recover. Our family even set the table for us to celebrate Christmas with them.”
But the air ambulance team worried that Indianna might not be good enough to fly and when they finally arrived at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle on Christmas Day, the doctors there delivered some tragic news.
“They told me for no hope for Indianna, they told me she had hypoxia. I was heartbroken and so shocked,” Kelly said.
Pediatric pathologist Dr. Srinivas Annavarapu told the court that Indianna’s cause of death was hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy caused by the long time she was underwater. He said the youngster would have suffered “irreversible” brain damage by the time she was taken out of the water.
and dr. Power added that while there was “substantial criticism” of the Egyptian hospital’s actions and their communication with the family, he did not believe that mistakes made at the hospital “changed the ultimate fatal outcome”.
In his statement to the court, Thomas said before the incident it was “one of those holidays where you couldn’t relax” due to safety concerns. He added: “Kelly and I didn’t feel safe in the hotel, there were so many problems… It just looked like an accident waiting to happen.”
Before the hearing, he said he hoped it would provide “answers” for his distraught family.
He said: “It’s still so hard to accept that our little girl is gone. She always had a smile on her face and loved spending time with her siblings, who are also struggling to cope with her loss. It’s been three years now, but the pain is still so raw.
“While nothing will ever make up for our loss, and the inquest will be difficult as we have to relive everything we’ve been through, we hope it will give us answers.”
The investigation continues.
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