Giant wave broke man’s neck in Turkey

Mr O'Brien was flown back to the UK by air ambulance
Mr O'Brien was flown back to the UK by air ambulance
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A giant wave broke an Irchester man’s neck when he was on a family holiday in Turkey which later led to his death, an inquest heard.

John O’Brien, 66, of High Street, Irchester, was on holiday in Antalya, Turkey, when the freak accident happened in June 2010.

Some members of his family were swimming in the sea, on June 24, when the accident happened. They had only been on holiday for two days.

The inquest at Leicester Coroner’s court on Thursday heard how family members desperately tried to help Mr O’Brien after the incident and struggled with a language barrier to call an ambulance.

Mr O’Brien was swimming with a rubber ring when a current pulled him and a family member out to sea.

Family member Paula Wills-Edwards told the inquest they did not feel safe and headed back to the beach.

However, when they were returning to the beach a “very big” wave, knocked both her and Mr O’Brien over.

Ms Wills-Edwards said her husband Graham helped her as she struggled in the sea, adding: “I was under the water, and I just didn’t realise at the time that Graham was holding me. I was struggling. I knew I was in trouble.”

When she resurfaced she said she noticed Mr O’Brien floating face down.

But another wave came in and he disappeared, only to resurface again moments later.

She added: “We were just yelling for help, I’d say eight men came running and dragged him out.”

She said her family tried to get people to call the emergency services but nobody knew the number.

Ambulance crews eventually arrived, around 45 minutes later, and took him to Anadolu Hospital, Antalya.

Upon arrival at the hospital Mr O’Brien was in and out of consciousness.

He was later transferred back to the UK by air ambulance, and looked after by doctors at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

The doctors there revealed that he was paralysed from the neck down.

He then developed pneumonia and deteriorated rapidly before dying on July 1, 2010.

Donald Coutts-Wood, deputy coroner for Leicester city and south Leicestershire, recorded a verdict of accidental death on Mr O’Brien, with spinal cord transection the main cause.