Why? Because of an unmaintained and incorrectly installed Gas appliance
Yesterday the Television News & Newspapers reported on the trial of Thomas Cook for the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd aged just six and seven, in a bungalow at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, Corfu.
On the third day of the holiday, Christi felt ‘unwell’ and Bobby tripped and fell after feeling dizzy. That evening their Dad, Neil Shepherd and his now wife, Ruth, put the children to bed at 11.30pm. During the night, they heard Christi crying and Bobby whimpering, they went to their bedroom and checked them, but cannot remember anything else until they woke up in hospital.
The following morning, the Chambermaid had gone to the room and found the children with the adults slumped by them. Neil and Ruth were in a coma and close to death, but recovered after emergency treatment in hospital, however, both children died.
Tests showed the family had suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.
The couple who stayed in that same bungalow immediately before them had also become ill during their holiday, they were taken to hospital, but the diagnosis of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning had been missed.
The cause of this tragedy was the gas-fired hot water boiler which was in an outhouse next to the bedrooms.
The failures found :
*The installer had failed to fit a flue (which would have taken away the deadly fumes).
*There was a water leak and the boiler was covered in rust (meaning the boiler was being over-worked causing a build-up of dangerous gasses).
The rust would have made the leak obvious, but this was not fixed!
*A crucial safety device (designed to cut out the boiler if it overheated) had been deliberately disabled (to save a worker from having to come into work and relight the boiler when it was tripped off)
*A hole cut into the outhouse internal wall for air conditioning pipes (but not resealed around said pipes) had allowed fumes to pass into the bedrooms.
Thomas Cook’s Audit Report in 2004 was incomplete. They had not been vigilant enough and had not even identified the boiler room.
When Thomas Cook’s Chief Executive was invited to apologise, he said “I have nothing to apologise for”, however the staff were found to have failed to carry out the proper monthly health and safety audits’.
It was also found that the staff were not given proper training and so the checks were not carried out correctly.
The Jury returned a verdict of unlawful killing.
Mr & Mrs Shepherd and Bobby and Christi’s Mum and her husband Sharon and Paul Wood, have said that they hope this is the last time they have to go through the painful details but, above all, they hope all the publicity will prevent this happening to another family.
The worrying thing is that a lot of people here in the UK don’t worry about their boilers and believe it will all be okay – if you don’t have your boiler checked annually, you don’t know that it’s safe for you and your family.
You must also check that the person who is doing the checks is someone who IS properly trained and registered with Gas Safe.
The Tour Operator breached their duty of care in the above case, but we all have a duty to ourselves and our families – if you are not happy to have your boiler serviced on an annual basis, please, at least invest in a Carbon Monoxide Alarm – you can pick one of these up for around £20 (make sure you position it correctly by following the package instructions)
Rest in peace Bobby and Christi
If you have any questions about fumes from flues, or if you are aware you have rust in the boiler casing (please do not remove the case on your boiler as this should only be done by a qualified Heating Engineer), this can mean that the chamber in the casing cannot seal properly and so can allow an escape of gasses.
Safety is paramount – please always feel free to call us on 01323 840 569.
The boiler in the Bungalow in Corfu: