Spanish holiday pools becoming 'most dangerous in Europe', expert warns as granddad who drowned in Tenerife is latest victim to be named

The number of deaths in swimming pools since July stands at six (that we know of) and a top expert has now warned shoddy security and substandard designs make them among the most dangerous in Europe.

"Sadly every year toddlers die in pools abroad," Allen Wilson, who has spent more than two decades advising tour operators and businesses on safety, told Sun Online.

He added: "As far as Tenerife goes, I have found lifeguards leaving their posts at a resort whilst water features were still operating and being used by children.

"Swimming pools in the Canary Islands and Tenerife have the potential to be among the most dangerous in Europe."

Allan Howell's family found that out in the most horrific way possible when the 66-year-old drowned on a break to Costa Daurada, Catalonia, at the start of the month.

They claimed no lifeguards were on duty at the four-star Salou Park Resort One when a little girl noticed the retired mechanic floating motionless in the water.

His family said she alerted her grandfather who, with the help of a holidaying couple from Scotland, pulled him from the pool on September 4.

Allan from Catford, south London, was rushed to hospital and put on life support after suffering a cardiac arrest but died there three days later.

The physically-fit Brit, who went swimming every morning during his break, was due to fly back from the Jet2 holiday the next day.

His relative told Sun Online: "It could easily have happened to a kid. He went swimming in the main pool that morning.

"He asked my aunt if she wanted to come but she wasn't ready. Next thing you know a young girl was getting hysterical and it turned out that my uncle on the bottom of the pool.

"The ambulance workers said he was under water for six minutes at least before he was pulled out. By then it was too late."

The family member, who immediately flew out to be with his aunt, claimed other tourists told him there was no security around the pool.

He added: "A young Scottish couple, the ones who helped my uncle out of the pool, told me there should've been lifeguards.

"Being told the damage had been done was horrible. And if there was a lifeguard there, this may not ever have happened.

"The whole time I was there, Thursday to Monday, I didn't see a single lifeguard, it was shocking. It could have been a kid."

The relative said Allan, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's six months ago, was in tremendous shape and had the "body of a 40-year-old". Sun Online has contacted Jet2 and the hotel for comment.

He became at least the sixth person to drown in Spain since July, although two of them died in private villas, not public pools.

The victims include four-year-old Presley Stockton whose family claimed a lifeguard at their Tenerife resort was "chatting to girls" when he drowned.

They are demanding answers after little Presley Stockton was pronounced dead at the four-star Paradise Park Hotel in Los Cristianos on Wednesday.

A hotel spokesman told Sun Online there were two lifeguards on duty at the "packed" family pool where Presley was playing.

Describing the death as an "absolute tragedy", he said an ambulance arrived within minutes and took over from the guards who were trying to save him.

Health and safety expert Allen has now implored resorts to improve standards and suggested someone may have "taken their eye off the ball" when Presley was in the water.

He said: "Some pools having poor design and maintenance. I have also witnessed lax lifeguarding duty which posed a real risk to the safety of children and adults.
"In the past I have investigated the pool-related deaths of three children, one teenager and one adult for tour operators both in the UK and abroad.
"This tragic death [Presley] should be investigated by someone impartial as the family need answers for what went wrong."
"Until a few years ago it was me and a couple of other vastly experienced experts from the UK.

"But we are no longer used for this and I understand now health and safety is sometimes left to inexperienced local reps or hotel staff instead."

In a rare glimmer of good news this week, another British lad Blair Scott, eight, was seen smiling in his hospital bed less than two weeks after he almost drowned in Benidorm.

Spanish laws on lifeguards at pools

Every communal pool must have a lifeguard on duty during opening hours, according to Spanish lawyeer Maria de Castro.

The lifeguards must also be qualified and have official certification for the role, she told Eye On Spain.

These are how many are required:

  • One lifeguard for pools from 200-square-metres to 500-square-metres of water surface.
  • Two lifeguards for pools from 500-square-metres to 1,000-square-metres
  • For pools bigger than 1,000-square-metres, an addition lifeguard is required for every extra 500-square-metres

If the separation between pools does not allow for "efficient watchfulness", Maria said a lifeguard is needed for each one

The young lad was found lying motionless in the water Magic Robin Hood resort before three brave holidaymakers fished him out.

His family have been locked in a bitter dispute with the hotel which issued a statement claiming it took lifeguards 20 minutes to find the family after fishing Blair from the pool.

Blair's dad Kevin said he had "several witnesses" to prove the hotel was wrong and that his partner Ashley was near the pool the whole time.

Only a few weeks ago, a holidaymaker had to rescue a boy and girl, six and seven respectively, from a pool in Menorca when a lifeguard failed to respond.

But dad-of-two Steven Tartt, 32, was later criticised for demanding compensation from holiday firm TUI.

They could quite easily have added to more than 25 Brits who have drowned in holiday pools in each of the last two years.

Brits who drowned in Spanish holiday pools this year

  • July 8: Ben Crawford, 19, was swimming in his private villa in Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza, at around 3am when he got into difficulty. Medics tried to the lad from west Yorkshire but he suffered a cardiac arrest.
  • July 28: A four-year-old girl drowned in a rented villa just off Marbella's Golden Mile after climbing from a paddling pool into a full-sized one. Her mum, from Straffan, county Kildare, was distracted for just a moment when she fell in the water, reports claimed.
  • September 6: A 24-year-old woman died after being dragged from a swimming pool at Hotel Nautico Ebeso in Ibiza. She reportedly died from a heart attack at Can Misses Hospital.
  • September 17: Silvia Philips, 70, drowned in a swimming pool at the Puerto Rico resort on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. Her cause of death is still being investigated, the Daily Star reported. The hotel has not commented on the case.
  • September 19: Presley Stockton, four, died from a cardiac arrest after being pulled from a swimming pool at the Paradise Park Hotel in Los Cristianos, Tenerife. Cops are investigating the events which led to his death. The hotel said two lifeguards were on duty at the time.

Meanwhile, almost 500 people from the UK were injured in pool-related incidents, according to the Safer Tourism Foundation.

Many of the cases involved children who were not properly supervised, jumped into shallow water or got tangled in the filtration system.

It was largely the villas, water parks and hotel owners who came under fire, with 60 per cent of people claiming safety around pools was not good enough.

But the study also found that parents were not very clued up about pool safety: One in 10 thought it was okay to leave children alone for a while if a lifeguard present.

And less than 30 per cent checked their kids' swimming costumes for anything that could be dragged into filtration systems.

Sun Online has contacted the Salou Park Resort One for comment.

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