Wales

Sri Lanka holidaymaker Andrew Critchett drowned in strong waves

Bentota, Sri Lanka Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Bentota Peninsula is on the Indian Ocean

A holidaymaker died in Sri Lanka after going into the sea while a red warning flag was flying, an inquest heard.

Andrew Critchett, 48, from Rhos-on-Sea, Conwy, drowned in October 2018 after a strong wave took him by surprise and dragged him under.

At an inquest in Ruthin, a conclusion of accidental death was given.

His family criticised staff at the Centara Ceysands Resort and Spa on the Bentota Peninsula for not warning guests of the dangers.

Mr Critchett, who ran the Halfords shop in Llandudno, had waded into the sea with two friends.

"We were all aware of how strong the waves were and were all jumping up and down," said Zane Jenkins in a statement to Sri Lankan police.

At first, Mr Critchett's wife was taking photos of them, but then he got swept off his feet by a strong wave and struggled against a rip tide.

Mr Critchett, a strong swimmer and experienced diver, called "I think I'm in a spot of bother", which is when hotel staff were called and they entered the water to help.

"I felt he didn't want to admit he was struggling," said Mr Jenkins.

"The waves had dramatically got worse and the staff and locals were struggling."

He helped pull ashore their other friend Tommy Robinson and added: "I was so close to getting to him."

Mr Critchett was spotted 15 metres away and despite efforts to revive him, he died.

Members of his family said they were concerned there were no lifeguards on duty, no safety equipment and the hotel did not have a defibrillator.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner John Gittins said his jurisdiction did not extend to making any recommendations.

But he added: "Travel agents and holiday companies do carry out assessments and inspections and these things can be highlighted."

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