'No answers' decade after Glyn Summers' Spanish fall death

By Nelli Bird
BBC News

Published
media captionGlyn Summers died a week after falling from a hotel balcony

A family who lost their teenage son a decade ago after he fell from a Spanish hotel balcony say they still need answers about his death.

Glyn Summers, 17, died a week after the fall while on a college educational trip to Barcelona.

Coleg y Cymoedd said "legal constraints" prevented them from releasing an internal inquiry.

The family, from Hengoed, Caerphilly, has called for a full public inquiry in a petition to a Senedd committee.

"My memory of that week is just a blur," Glyn's elder brother Sion said, as he recalled how events unfolded in October 2011.

"It just didn't make sense."

The student had gone abroad as part of his course at Ystrad Mynach College, which is now part of Coleg y Cymoedd.

It was in the months that followed that the family said they realised key information about what had happened to the teenager had been "swept under the carpet", according to Sion.

The teenager had been to a nightclub that evening, and had consumed alcohol during the night.

"We didn't know that he was given permission to go to this club, we didn't know that he wasn't supervised.

"While we were trying to be at Glyn's bedside, we were battling with his private insurance company who were refusing to pay out for his medical bills because of the circumstances that the tutors had regaled to them."

Sion said that included the suggestion Glyn had "jumped" from the balcony, leading the family to believe he might have taken his own life.

Eventually, the family obtained a Spanish police report, including eyewitnesses who said they had seen Glyn fall and try to climb back onto the balcony.

A letter seen by BBC Wales from the former Ystrad Mynach College in 2012 revealed the college believed staff used "professional judgment" after the students - including Glyn - "specifically asked " to go to a particular club.

image source, Family image
image captionGlyn Summers was 17 when he died after falling from a hotel balcony in Spain

His brother said it was now 10 years since the family had lost their "happy boy" and "entertainer of the family", who Sion described as his "best friend".

"We are nowhere near any kind of closure to find out what exactly happened with Glyn, but more so, to find out if any lessons have been learned," he said.

"Unfortunately all we have had over the last 10 years is brick walls and legal stipulations and confidentiality clauses."

He said his brother's death had been "utterly devastating" for the family, particularly his parents Sarah and Lee Summers.

"They will never stop fighting for Glyn. Until an apology is given for the failings and assurances and evidence is provided so they can rest easy that it's not going to happen to another family, I don't think they are going to move on from it."

image captionSion Summers has lodged a petition with a Senedd committee calling for a public inquiry and a change in the law

In the petition to the Welsh Parliament, the family has also called for legislation to "ensure that no family has to fight public services to release information relating to fatal incidents".

The principal of Coleg y Cymoedd Karen Phillips said Glyn Summers' death "was a tragic accident that was deeply distressing for family and friends, as well as staff and fellow students, who continue to feel his loss".

'Safety and wellbeing'

She said in a statement the college had "always endeavoured to do as much as we are permitted to give Glyn's parents the information which they have requested".

"However, legal constraints prevent us offering unrestricted access to the documents in this case."

She said she had offered to meet the family on three occasions "in the hope that I might illustrate how the lessons learned from their tragic loss have resulted in significant enhancements regarding educational trips at all Welsh education providers".

"The safety and wellbeing of the students in our care is, and always will be, the over-riding priority for Coleg y Cymoedd."

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