Newsbeat

Benidorm water park accident: British tourist 'could be paralysed'

David Briffaut and Penny Bristow Image copyright Family handout

A 23-year-old man from Essex who broke his neck after an accident at a Spanish water park is having surgery, his family has told Radio 1 Newsbeat.

David Briffaut could be left paralysed after going on the Splash ride at Aqualandia in Benidorm.

His uncle Mark Pooley said: "David is a wonderful young man who was enjoying an innocent day out with his girlfriend."

Aqualandia said it's "very sad about what happened" but added: "The park is not responsible for the accident."

David, who's from Benfleet, is on a life support machine in a Spanish hospital after breaking his neck in two places.

He went down the slide on his stomach - as you're supposed to - but lost consciousness after hitting the water in a pool at the bottom.

Image copyright Aqualandia
Image caption A file picture of Splash - the white slide on the right

David works as a green-keeper at a golf club in Essex and is a junior county golfer.

His uncle Mark told Newsbeat David had been at the water park with his girlfriend Penny Bristow to celebrate her completing her degree. They've been together for six years.

"We are praying for a miracle, but we have been told that the injuries he has sustained are very traumatic," Mark said.

"We cannot understand how this happened at a family tourist destination. David was behaving in the normal way, and he had not been drinking.

"We believe there should be a full investigation into the circumstances of what happened."

A spokesperson from Aqualandia told Newsbeat: "The ride Splash is completely safe, as are the rest of the slides at the park."

The park says the slides are checked by an external company every season and by staff each morning.

It also said: "Video footage plainly shows how the 23-year-old man did not follow the guidelines for Splash. Our lifeguard team informed him of the rules of the ride and he didn't obey them."

David's uncle told Newsbeat: "We totally refute that, if you look at the video clips you see David going down the slide in a fashion that anyone would go down the slides, so that's just not true.

"David is a big guy - he's 6ft 4... but he was going down in accordance to the instructions at the top of the ride.

"It's just unbelievable he goes down the ride, there's a big splash and he ends up breaking his neck at the end," Mark added.

David's mum and dad, Lorraine and Stephane, have flown to Spain to be with their son and hope to bring him home by air ambulance.

Image copyright Family handout
Image caption There are fears David's injuries mean he is left paraplegic - unable to use his legs

The Foreign Office said: "Our consular staff are assisting the family of a British man hospitalised in Alicante, including by providing details of local lawyers, visiting the family at the hospital and liaising with the local authorities."

David's family have set up a crowdfunding page to raise £75,000 to help pay for his care when he returns home, which has so far raised more than £33,000.

His uncle Mark added: "We are hoping that David's travel insurance will pay for him to be flown home, but after that he faces a very uncertain future."

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