THE heartbroken family of two British teenagers killed in a Greek parasailing accident have told how they "waved off" their “beautiful” children in the sunshine before tragedy struck.
Michael Connelly, 13, and his cousin Jessica Lee Hayes, 15, were killed when falling some 400ft onto a rock face on the holiday island of Rhodes on Wednesday.
The pair were parasailing with Michael’s older brother James, 15, who survived the plunge but remains in an induced coma.
A rope attaching their parachute to a speedboat snapped as they sailed off the fishing village of Lindos.
Jessica’s dad Tony Hayes, from Kettering, Northants, today spoke of his heartbreak at losing his “special, beautiful” daughter.
Paying tribute to his "popular" girl, Tony said: “Jessica was a beautiful, beautiful lady. Extremely popular and very special.
“Mikey, her cousin, exactly the same. They’ve been stolen from us and we’re devastated.”
Speaking from a hospital in Rhodes, where his nephew James is in a coma with traumatic injuries, Tony added: “We’re doing terribly. It’s like the world’s come to an end.
“One minute the sun was shining, we’re sitting at the beach waving them off, and the next it was chaos.
“They didn’t come back on the boat, the hotel didn’t tell us anything, the person driving the boat didn’t come back."
'JUST TELL ME WHAT'S GOING ON'
Tony continued: “One report we heard was that three of them had all been found and they were all in ambulances – and the one going to hospital was more seriously injured. That was James.
“And we were told for around four hours that James was the worst and the other two were simply in fracture clinics before finally telling us they were dead.
“They were dead at the hospital the whole time – and yet we were being strung along with false hope that they were all ok.
“The way the nurse told us, after four hours, that they had died. There was no empathy. She almost shouted it. It was so stern.
“The police came to get their passports during that four hours but wouldn’t say why they needed them.
“I said, ‘Please just tell me what’s going on? Are they alive?’ They took the passports to identify the bodies. But they wouldn’t tell us. It was four hours until we were able to find out what happened. They put us through misery for four hours.”
Tony was heartbreakingly forced to identify his daughter’s body yesterday.
He said: “That was the worst part.
“There was a massive storm, thunder and lighting. All the roads were flooding everywhere. It was weird.
“Now we’re stuck in this hotel. Everyone around us is enjoying themselves on normal holidays.
"We have one nephew fighting for his life and two other children have died. We’re not doing too well.”
'WHY WAS IT ALLOWED TO HAPPEN?'
Tony has called for an urgent investigation into how the accident happened – and said the family had been advised to hire lawyers immediately.
Greek laws forbid three people parasailing at once – and the minimum legal age for taking part in the watersport is 16.
Local businessman Nikos Mallios, 51, who owns the waterspouts firm used by the family, was arrested by cops last night and appeared before prosecutors today.
He is expected to be charged in the coming days.
Tony said: “Something’s gone wrong somewhere because I’ve been reading that you are only allowed two people in a parasailing trip at once, but yet three of them were allowed on there.
“Why did they allow that? Mikey wanted to do it, James was unsure about doing it and Jessica didn’t want to do it.
“We asked if they were old enough to do it and we were told anyone from three years old was allowed to do it.
“That’s not right.”
Greek sources close to the investigation have told The Sun that other passengers were on the speedboat at the time – and their crucial video evidence has been seized by cops.
They said: “There was GoPro footage from other holidaymakers on the boat showing exactly what happened, the rope snapping.
“It’s all been handed over to the police for the investigation.”
Source: Read Full Article