Holidaymaker to sue after leg is shattered by wave

Riu Touareg, Boa Vista, Cape Verde
Riu Touareg, Boa Vista, Cape Verde

A WIGAN holidaymaker is suing his tour operator after his leg was shattered by a wave.

Qualified rescue diver Rene Dickinson needed an emergency operation to a fractured femur after the horror accident while enjoying a stay on the island of Cape Verde in 2012.

Rene Dickenson's shattered leg

Rene Dickenson's shattered leg

He is one of three tourists who were injured separately on the same private beach that year and are now taking tour operator TUI (the parent company of Thomson) to court.

They say that the holiday firm should have issued warnings about the dangers to the public posed by the sea on this stretch at the five-star Riu Touareg resort, Boa Vista.

Cape Verde - an Atlantic island off the west coast of Africa - is a popular haunt for surfers because of its impressive waves, but the accident victims say there should have been better alerts for regular tourists.

The case has been taken up by specialist Manchester law firm Irwin Mitchell which has issued legal proceedings after TUI issued denials.

People also told me there were others injured by the waves which were far too strong for people to be swimming. I am appalled to hear that other people have been affected and believe urgent action needs to be taken to ensure people’s safety on the beach

Rene Dickinson

Mr Dickinson, 48, suffered his broken leg when he was swept off his feet by a wave as he walked out of the sea. Three days later, an injury trauma team arrived to transfer him back to England by air ambulance.

Once back in the UK, he was admitted to Salford Royal Hospital where he underwent a series of blood transfusions and surgery to the broken thigh bone.

He said: “As I am a qualified rescue diver and a strong swimmer, I thought I would be OK because there were no red flags warning us not to enter to sea. However, as I was coming out of the sea, I was hit by a wave which was so powerful that it fractured my leg.

“People also told me there were others injured by the waves which were far too strong for people to be swimming. I am appalled to hear that other people have been affected and believe urgent action needs to be taken to ensure people’s safety on the beach.”

Margaret Nuckley, 60, from the Isle of Wight, fractured her leg after being struck by a wave as she was getting out of the sea and still struggles to walk nearly three years on.

And Joanne Hunt, 50, suffered spinal fractures and had to be fitted with a brace after being injured in the sea during a week-long break with her partner.

Philip Banks, a Partner at Irwin Mitchell who specialises in helping those injured abroad, said: “Swimming and water sports in Cape Verde are heavily advertised and tour operators need to ensure that appropriate warning systems are in operation for the protection of their guests. All three of our clients suffered serious injuries and on all three occasions the flagging system on the beach apparently indicated that they could enter the sea. We are aware of several other incidents involving the same beach and understand that other holidaymakers have been injured.

“Tour operators must ensure that the hotels they are sending holidaymakers to have the correct safety measures in operation to prevent accidents such as these and potentially fatal incidents.

“We have been left with no choice but to issue court proceedings against TUI UK Ltd as they have continued to deny liability for the injuries sustained by our clients. We hope to resolve this matter fairly and quickly to enable our clients to receive compensation for their injuries and to get the treatment and rehabilitation that they now need to help with their on-going recovery. Also in bringing these cases, measures will hopefully be put in place to prevent similar incidents occurring.”

A TUI spokesman said: “We were of course sorry to hear of the experiences of these three customers in Cape Verde in 2012, however as this is now subject to legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for us to comment further. We’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the ultimate priority for Thomson and First Choice remains the health and safety of our customers.”