A young British man remains in intensive care at an Alicante Hospital, following a freak accident at a Benidorm water park, which left him paralysed from the chest down.
The victim, David Briffaut, 23, from Benfleet, Essex was on holiday with his girlfriend Penny, 22 and two friends in Xabia, when he the tragedy occurredon a day trip to the Aqualandia Waterpark in Benidorm, on July 8th.
A video, filmed by one of the group, show David and another member of the party tackling the Splash Waterslide, which features six slides, side by side and is rated as moderate on the Aqualandia website.
The pair are seen preparing themselves for the ride, by lying face down on a red mat, before launching themselves down the slide simultaneously.
As the laughing friends reach the bottom of the slide, the short video shows David’s head snap forward as he hits the water at speed.
He appears to be briefly knocked unconscious, before coming around to tell his friend, “I can’t feel my legs.”
The young man was dragged semi-conscious from the pool, before being rushed to hospital in Alicante, where he is receiving treatment for two broken vertebrae in his neck and spinal cord injuries.
David’s parents Lorraine and Stephane flew to Spain, to support their son, who remains paralysed from the chest down, needing a ventilator to control his breathing.
Teacher, Lorraine, 55, speaking to the UK media, explained that David was receiving excellent care from hospital staff, but the family are eager to get him home.
“He is sedated but is aware what has happened to him. David is getting fantastic care at the hospital but we want to get him home to England as soon as he can be moved,” said the distraught mum.
On her twice daily visits, she has been told that surgeons are hoping to operate to insert two screws in his neck and perform a tracheotomy, to allow him to breathe unaided.
His long term recovery remains unclear, as doctors are unsure whether he will regain the use of his lower body.
“All we can do is pray and hope that there is some recovery. We have been told David cannot feel anything from the chest down. Sometimes these are injuries from which the body does recover and that is what we can hope for,” said Lorraine, who along with her family, has launched a 75,000 pound Crowdfunding appeal.
The page says, ‘Our thoughts and our prayers are with David and his family. The catastrophic injuries mean that David will need life-long care. His life has changed and so has the lives of those closest to him.’
Relatives of the Briffaut family, have expressed their concern that no investigation into the accident has been instigated by Aqualandia and that the ride remained open following the incident.
However, a spokesperson for the popular waterpark, amongst the biggest in Europe, insisted they were not at fault.
The statement, widely reported in the British tabloid press, explained that Aqualandia, which sees thousands of visitors enter through its gates each Summer, has stringent safety regulations, including regular inspections and daily checks on all of their equipment.
“We have video images showing that Mr. Briffaut did not follow the guidelines for Splash, ” said the spokesperson.
“Aqualandia has a long, 34-year history and safety is out top priority. Our rules and recommendations are clearly displayed all the park and must be adhered to by our visitors.”
“Our lifeguard team informed him of the rules of the ride and he didn’t obey them. Even the family and friends confirmed this fact.”
Although, the accident has received extensive coverage in the UK media, it has not been reported in the Spanish press, which works under much stricter confidentiality rules, particularly in cases where an ongoing investigation is being conducted.