Southwold: Family tell of anguish at ‘avoidable’ tragedy
THE family of a Suffolk man who died after contracting legionnaires’ disease on a surprise 60th birthday trip have spoken of their loss.
Edward Warnes, who used to run Southwold Service Station and lived in Carlton Colville, died after a hot tub he used at a Scottish leisure resort was a breeding ground for the deadly bug.
Within days of contracting legionnaires’ disease Mr Warnes fell into a coma and his family had to make the decision to switch off his life support at the James Paget University Hospital on April 11, 2008.
On Friday the resort he stayed at, the Piperdam Golf and Leisure Resort, near Dundee, was fined �120,000 after pleading guilty to failing to prevent exposure to legionnaires’ disease.
Mr Warnes had been taken to the resort by his partner Rosemary Powell, now 60, two daughters Emma Warnes, now 40, April Bunn, now 35, and his four grandchildren.
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All of Mr Warnes family had been exposed to the fatal bacteria in a hot tub and shower heads.
After Friday’s hearing at Forfar Sheriff Court his family released a statement, which read: “The loss has been unbearable on our family and life will never be the same.
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“A devoted father and partner, our father doted on his grandchildren.
“We can only find a little solace in today’s verdict and hope it brings some closure for our family - but it won’t take away the pain and loss we feel every day knowing this tragedy could have been so easily avoided.
“Three years later our family has been able to gain justice and alert others of Piperdam’s failings that have left our family without a father, partner and grandfather.”
The court heard there were guidelines that the resort’s hot tubs should be checked three times a day and the system cleaned and disinfected every week.
But at the time of the legionnaires’ outbreak spas were being emptied every four weeks and water readings were taken shortly after chlorine had been added, a procedure that was flawed the court was told.
Piperdam said since Mr Warnes’ death it had appointed two health and safety staff. The company also offered a public apology to Mr Warnes’ family.
In October 2004 Mr Warnes was general manager of the Southwold Service Station when it went into voluntary liquidation.
The garage closed due to competition from supermarkets and the town’s ageing population giving up driving.