Daventry man has been left paralysed and needing around-the-clock support after being hit by a freak wave while on holiday.
Mick Collier’s life was changed when he was struck while swimming at a luxury resort in Cape Verde, off the coast of Africa.
Now, his devastated family is taking legal action against travel company TUI, claiming they had a duty of care to ensure the safety of guests.
Mr Collier, 71, was enjoying his penultimate day at the five-star Club Hotel Riu Funana when he entered the sea on the resort’s exclusive beach.
The family says lifeguards had used an orange flag to indicate that it was safe for holidaymakers to do so, but Mr Collier was then knocked down by a very large wave.
He suffered serious neck and spinal injuries during the incident which took place in March 2018.
He spent five days having emergency treatment in hospital on the Portuguese island before being airlifted back to the UK.
Mr Collier remains in the specialist spinal unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital nearly 18 months later.
He has been left tetraplegic with only limited movement in his arms. He has to be fed through a tube and will be reliant on others for the rest of his life.
Mr Collier’s family instructed Irwin Mitchell’s specialist international serious injury team to investigate what happened, and to try to help him access specialist therapies, care and the support he now requires.
His wife, Susan, 68, said: “One minute everything was fine and the next minute it was chaos. People were screaming for help and rushing into the sea.
“The next thing I remember was seeing Mick lying motionless on the beach. To see my husband like that was absolutely heart-breaking.”
She said Mr Collier used to be an outgoing person who liked golf: “To even try to start to come to terms with how life has changed has been so difficult.
“We know nothing can turn the clock back, however we believe that the least we deserve is for Mick to be given the care and support he needs and for him to be back home with his family.”
The couple have three sons, Lee, 43, Aidan, 39, and Nathan, 38, and a daughter, Laura, 40.
Lee said: “No other family should have to face the nightmare we are going through.”
Tour operators have a duty of care to ensure the safety of guests and as the beach was part of the hotel complex, their action is against TUI.
Philip Banks, the partner and serious injury expert at solicitors Irwin Mitchell said: “While nothing can ever make up for what has happened, we are determined to ensure that Mick can access the range of specialist care that he now requires.
“We call on TUI to now resolve this issue so that Mick and the family can try to look to the future, as best they can.”
A TUI spokesperson said: “We are sorry to hear of Mr Collier’s experience.
“As this is now a legal matter, it would be inappropriate to comment further. We’d like to reassure customers that we regularly audit all of our hotels in respect of health and safety.”