Student dies in tragic holiday fall
THE PARENTS of a university student who fell through a fifth floor hotel window during a forfeit in a game of cards, have called for foreign tour companies to carry out more rigorous safety checks to protect holiday-makers.
Mark Day, 20, was on holiday at the popular party resort of Magaluf with pals from the University of Essex in June 2008 when he was dared to run along a corridor in just his pants and socks, an inquest heard.
Tragically the bright business studies student from Braintree could not stop on the slippery tiled floor and crashed through a fifth floor window and plunged to his death.
Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard how Mark and two pals had gone to the island of Majorca to celebrate the end of term and were drinking vodka and lemonade and playing cards in a room at the Majorca Beach Hotel.
In a statement to Spanish Police, his friend Marc Smith, 20, from Hockley said they had been “drinking all day” and drunk about three quarters of a bottle of vodka between them while playing cards.
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Coroner’s officer Simon Oakley read Mr Smith’s statement to the court. He said: “The rules of the game were if they had a queen they had to run through the hotel corridor in their underwear.
“At the end of the game all three were going to run.
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“He and Mark went out in the corridor, there was a window.
“Mark continued running with his hands out in front of him. The window was unable to bear his weight and broke and Mark fell.
“He couldn’t understand how the glass broke as his friend was trying to stop himself by coming up against it.”
The inquest heard how the 6ft tall glass window at the end of a 165ft corridor and was carpeted except near the window where there were floor tiles.
Mr Day was in his first year studying business, finance and economics at university and it was his first trip abroad without his family.
Paramedics tried to revive him at the scene but he was declared dead.
A post mortem examination carried out by Home Office pathologist Dr David Rouse revealed he died of multiple injuries “consistent with a fall”.
Spanish Police investigated the accident and questioned his two friends Marc Smart, 18, and Steve Kimberley, 19, but ruled it was not suspicious and a tragic accident.
Assistant deputy coroner, Eleanor McGann, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
She said: “It is very clear to me that Mark was not a young silly yob going on a drinking binge - he was a shinning, young man, studying at university and moving forward with his life.
“I have read tributes from his friends saying Mark was a very caring and kind-hearted person who was always willing to help and putting his friends and family before him. He always had a smile on his face and always looking on the bright side of life.”
Mr Day’s parents Beverley Day, 51, and Stephen, 52, from Braintree, were on holiday in Turkey at the time of their son’s death and were told about the tragedy two days later by consular officials.
Mrs Day said: “When lads go abroad they are portrayed as binge drinkers with no regard of their own safety or anyone else, my son wasn’t like there. He liked a drink but he was just having fun.
“He didn’t drink a lot, my husband had never seen him drunk. He was having a couple of drinks with friends and playing a game. He was on his first holiday and enjoying himself.
“The couple said their son, who was captain of the university men’s badminton team, slipped on the floor tiles near the window and could not stop himself from hitting it.
Mr Day, who works in the contracting department at Essex County Council, said he visited the hotel in Magaluf a week later and retrieved a fragment of glass and claimed it was not toughened safety glass - which does not break on impact.
He said: “The glass wasn’t safety glass, the window opened right out, anyone could have fallen out of it.
“I spoke to the holiday company and was told that all the buildings have to follow is the safety rules that were in places at the point of time when they were built. If it was a 50-year-old hotel the safety standards are 50 years old.
“We think they should be more safety conscious rather than looking at how comfortable or big the rooms are.”
Mrs Day added: “People book with these big holiday companies because they think they are going to be safe.
“Nothing can bring Mark back but we don’t want another person getting hurt. I don’t want another family to go through what we did.”
The couple, who have another son, Stephen, 24, who also attended Essex University said they will be taking up the issue further with the holiday company Mark booked his holiday with.
Mrs Day said: “He was a popular and outgoing. He lived every day to the full and was surrounded by friends. “
Her husband added: “We have been distraught. He was a very bright lad.”
His girlfriend of two years Katie Barlow, 20, who has left Essex University wrote a tribute for the coroner to read.
It said: “Wherever he was, laughter seemed to follow. He would always lift everyone’s spirits.
“Yes Mark enjoyed drinking and joking around but he was a clever young man who would never intentionally put himself or anyone else in danger.
“He was was a complete gentleman and emotionally mature.
“There are no words I could possibly use to even explain just how amazing a person Mark was in my eyes and just how much I loved him.”