AN elderly British tourist fell to his death while looking for the toilet in a Spanish restaurant after a door leading to the “ancient” cellar steps was left unlocked with only a note written in Spanish to warn holidaymakers not to come in, an inquest heard yesterday.
Tragedy struck the very day Colin Wild, 74, was due to fly home with his wife Anne after a two week Saga holiday in Port Denia, which is on the Costa Blanca but off the main tourist track.
The couple had visited a market in the town and stopped at a pavement café for a snack, after which Mr Wild went looking for a toilet.
When he failed to return Mrs Wild went looking for him and at the El Comercio restaurant was told there had been an accident. Her husband had been found lying dead from a skull injury in a pool of blood on the cellar floor by a cook, after apparently falling down the steps and striking his head on a heavy wooden beam.
The Bradford hearing was told the cellar door was supposed to be locked. There was a warning notice in Spanish but retired sales office manager Mr Wild did not speak the language.
There was also a sign for toilets on some double doors which opened onto the cellar door. But in fact the conveniences were up a different flight of stairs, it was said.
The door was still unlocked when his son Martin visited the resort months later to investigate. Mrs Wild said: “The stairs were ancient yellow stone, very steep and uneven, and there was a drop straight down from the top.”
Recording an accident verdict, West Yorkshire Coroner Prof Paul Marks told the widow she could take legal action in the courts, adding: “You were both having a super holiday and this tragedy was all the more poignant because of that.”
After the hearing, the family said they felt resorts being promoted by holiday companies should be geared up for British visitors and display notices written in English.
But they did not want to criticise Saga, saying the company’s reps had responded very well in the aftermath of the tragedy.